The Plaid Horse Questionnaire with: Courtney Levine

Status: Amateur  
Hometown: Miami, FL  
Trainers: Alan Korotkin and Susan Tuccinardi

As a horsewoman, I am most proud of: my ability to be sympathetic as a rider to the needs of the horses I ride. It’s not always easy, there are moments where that can feel challenging, but I try really hard to pay attention to what the horse is telling me, how a horse might be interpreting or misinterpreting what I’m doing or asking, and how I can ask more effectively. 

As a horsewoman, I would most like to improve on: so many things. I’d really like to work on confidence and consistency over fences, something I think a lot of amateurs can identify with if their schedules interfere with time in the saddle, or if they’ve had to take breaks here and there. 

I’d be lost without: sunscreen in my tack trunk and hair ties in my ring bag. 

I think the biggest misconception about our sport is: that it is just a casual hobby or occasional outing for most of us. I think a lot of people outside the sport underestimate the time and energy that goes into riding, showing, and caring for horses. 

The part of riding I struggle most with is: keeping my reins an appropriate length. Also remembering not to dwell too much on mistakes or bad rides. This can be a very emotional and humbling sport, it’s easy to beat yourself up if you’re in a slump or if something isn’t quite going your way. 

The part of riding I’m best at is: rewarding horses, always. Pats for good behavior, for learning, and for getting things right. A softening of aids when they listen, reassuring and affirmative words. Even if it’s not the easiest or most productive ride, I will find a reason to give horses pats and affection regardless of how I’m feeling personally. 

My best piece of advice for young riders is: horsemanship first. That might seem obvious or trite, but I really believe that it is the most important component to maintaining longevity in the sport. In order to persevere in the long run in this sport, the common theme must always be your relationship to your horse. I am a firm believer that putting in the work at the barn, on the ground, paying attention to details with your horse ultimately makes you a much more effective and sophisticated rider in the ring. 

I’m a sucker for: a cute face, a horse with a kind eye, and a nugget face that you just want to squish. Honestly, I’m a sucker for most horses and they know it. They smell me and the treats coming. 

On Mondays, you’ll find me: catching up on emails and errands, and probably taking a nap.

I’m afraid of: anything venomous. Also, tornadoes. 

The horse person I most admire is: Beezie Madden, because not only is she one of the most decorated women in the history of the sport, she also is incredibly thoughtful about what is best for her horses. I love seeing how happy all of her retired horses are. Plus, she really is just so fast and efficient in every jump-off I’ve seen her in. She’s amazing.

Something I say ten times a day is…“Work smarter, not harder.” Or, “Wait, what did I walk in here for?” 

One of my greatest show ring victories was: back when I was riding with Nona Garson several years ago, I ended up leasing a horse to show at WEF one weekend, and having only ridden it once before, we went into the ring and placed in the top 12 out of a pretty big field on our first day. It wasn’t necessarily my greatest ride or biggest win, but it really solidified some confidence in my ability to adapt to new horses and figure things out without overthinking. That in and of itself is a win for me.  

I sometimes wish I had the time to learn: how to perform equine massage therapy. I would love to be able to do some gentle body work on some of the horses that I ride.

My motto is: in life, and with horses, the answer to almost all questions is: go forward.

*This story was originally published in the April 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!

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