Plaidcast 355: Rachel Boggus, Kiera Phlipot & Jessica Jones by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Plaidcast Episode 355 Rachel Boggus Kiera Phlipot Jessica Jones


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Piper speaks with amateur rider Rachel Boggus about her experience as a working mother while also chasing big dreams and competitive goals. Another amateur rider, Kiera Phlipot joins to talk about her journey with her horse from an unbroke four year old to winning the Amateur Owner Hunter USEF Horse of the Year title. Jessica Jones, CEO/Owner of Equestrian Gardens also joins to talk about bringing beauty to our horse shows while also competing in the amateur ring herself. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!


  • Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Guest: Rachel Boggus is a 42 years old adult amateur rider that lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rachel is also a doctor, specifically an anesthesiologist who specializes in interventional pain management. while also holding 4 different jobs in order to pay for her riding and being a wife and mother to Vivienne, her 1 year old baby girl. Rachel owns one horse, Chevito, who does the adult amateur hunters with her trainer Abby Blankenship at Three Ships LLC. 
  • Guest: Kiera Phlipot is a 36 year old Amateur rider based in Manchester, Michigan who rides with Dorothy Campbell of Just A Folly Farm. Kiera and her husband Alan live on their private 10-stall farm. Kiera currently owns 2 horses, Red Roc (‘Paddy’ 14yrs), and his full sibling younger 3 year old brother. Kiera’s recent accolades include 2022 USEF Horse of the Year 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunter 18-35, 2022 USHJA National Leading Amateur Rider & Leading Amateur Horse for the National Hunter Derbies. Most recently, Kiera placed 3rd Overall at the USHJA 3’3” Adult Jumping Seat Medal Finals, 9th in the USHJA Gladstone Adult Equitation Final, and 5th in the THIS Adult Medal Finals 25+.
  • Guest: Jessica Jones is the the CEO/Owner of Equestrian Gardens, where she combines her passion for riding, wellness and gardening with over 25 years of corporate executive experience. Equestrian Gardens specializes in creating bespoke outdoor living designs and decor tailored to your equestrian property or event. With a diverse portfolio ranging from exquisite horse show barn setups to VIP events and landscape designs for prestigious competitions such as the USHJA International Derby, Equestrian Gardens delivers unparalleled expertise in equestrian property design and real estate staging. Jess was an accomplished hunter/jumper rider as a junior and now as an adult with wins such as the 2019 Child/Adult Jumper Grand Champion at HITS and recently the 2022 HITS Adult Amateur Reserve Champion.
  • Title Sponsor: Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (THIS) was founded in 1987 to provide specialized insurance for all types of equine risk. THIS places their policies with the highest rated and most secure carriers, meticulously selected for reliability and prompt claims settlement. THIS is proud of their worldwide reputation for responsive and courteous service, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your equine insurance needs and provide you with a quote.
  • Photo Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography, Kind Media Pete Coco Photography
  • Subscribe To: The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Sponsors: Purina Animal NutritionAmerica CryoAlexis Kletjian Jewelry, LAURACEA, BoneKare, Show Strides Book Series, With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard and Good Boy, Eddie

This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.

Piper Klemm [00:01:30] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of The Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up today on episode 355, we’re going to talk with three smart, ambitious and talented amateurs on how they balance doing it all in this sport. First, I talk with topical amateur rider Rachel Boggus about her experience as a doctor, a mother and chasing big dreams and competitive goals in the show Ring. Then I will speak with amateur rider Kiera Phlipot about her journey with her horse of a lifetime. Patti from an unbroke four year old to winning the USEF Amateur Owner Horse of the Year title and being a leading amateur derby horse and the leading amateur derby rider. Finally, I will speak with amateur rider Jess Jones, CEO and owner of Equestrian Gardens, about bringing beauty to our horse shows while competing in the ring herself. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:30] Rachel Boggus is a 42 year old adult amateur rider who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rachel is a doctor, an anesthesiologist who specializes in interventional pain management while also holding four different jobs in order to pay for her riding and being a wife and mother to her one year old baby girl, Vivian. Rachel owns one horse, Chevito who does the adult amateur hunters and trains with Abby Blankenship at Three Ships LLC. Welcome to the plaidcast, Rachel. 

Rachel Boggus [00:04:00] Thank you for having me, Piper. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:02] You won so many things in just a couple days. Really quickly, do you want to tell us about some of the some of the classes this fall that have been really special to you? 

Rachel Boggus [00:04:11] Sure. So I leased a jumper from Ashland Farm and I do him in the adult jumpers. And we went to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and they had a full division there. And they were three classes. We won the first two classes and then had an unfortunate rail in the jump off, but still ended up champion just from the points we had gotten the first two days. So we were a champion in the adult jumpers at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. And then I have a hunter I own. His name Chevito, and we won the Washington International Horse Show, Adult Hunter Championship. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:53] I loved your interview afterwards. Can you talk a little bit about what what it’s like, what you balance, what you’ve had going on? It’s so easy to look at these indoors and say, well, you know, I could. I could, I could. And and you’ve kind of been knocking at the door for for a number of big wins for a while, but also balancing all this other stuff, which I think so many of us related to. 

Rachel Boggus [00:05:14] Sure. So, you know, I was pretty emotional because it’s been a tough few years that just with balancing home life and riding. I actually didn’t ride at all two years ago because I was pregnant and I had actually a lot of trouble getting pregnant. I had to do four different rounds of in vitro, and so I couldn’t ride during the majority of that either. Just when you’re doing in vitro, your ovaries get enlarged because they’re trying to harvest a lot of eggs and it’s dangerous. If you were to fall off, your ovaries can rupture. So that kind of had me spooked. So I didn’t ride, you know, for well over a year, really with the in-vitro and then, you know, being pregnant, I obviously didn’t want to take any chances. It was so hard to even get pregnant. And so I really missed it, I missed my horses, I missed the competition. And ever since having my baby, it’s you know, I thought I was busy before, but I was not busy before. Now it’s, you know, next level, busy juggling the baby. And then I’ve always had to work, you know, a number of jobs to be able to pay for the horses. But, you know, now that I have to pay for, you know, stuff for the baby as well, I have had to take on a few extra roles. So it’s just been a really stressful year, trying to balance everything. I want to be a good parent to my daughter. I want to be a good wife to my husband and I want to be present for my horses as well. I think a lot of the reason that I’ve been able to have success is that I tried to develop a really good bond and relationship with my horses. I want them to know who I am. I want them to like me and want to, you know, perform for me and I want them to be happy. And so it’s just hard to try and balance all that sometimes, you know, you’re just kind of burning the candle at both ends, it feels like. And so to have those big wins, it was kind of a culmination of a lot of hard work. And, you know, I was very emotional that, you know, I was able to make it happen. 

Piper Klemm [00:07:16] Tell us about Chevito. How long have you had him and and what was he like hanging out in the barn? 

Rachel Boggus [00:07:21] Yeah. So I haven’t had Chevito for too long. I actually wasn’t even really looking for a hunter. But basically my trainer, Abby Blankenship, she goes to Florida in the winter. I don’t go to Florida. I can’t afford it. So I stay home and I go to WEF Wilmington. But she’s always looking out for me. She knows what my goals are. She knows that I really, you know, have a goal of winning these national adult, Hunter Jumper and Equitation classes. And someone had approached her. That Chevito was available and he was a little bit older. He has a few little quirks. And so he needed kind of the right rider. And Abby immediately thought of me knowing that, you know, that’s kind of my niche, is that I can’t really afford horses that are in their prime or are at the top of their game. I have to get horses that have a little bit of a specific ride or are a little bit older and maybe can’t jump that big anymore. And she really thought, Hey, this is something that Rachel could do, you know, and try to win NAL and Washington Finals on. And so she called me and told me he was available. So you know, my baby was so young at that point. I couldn’t even fly down to Florida to try him. So we asked if they would ship him to us to do a trial. And so we were able to ship him to Indiana, and I kept him for a week and we took him to a show. And, you know, he was fantastic. I liked how he rode. I thought that I understood kind of what he wanted in a rider. And so I ended up buying him. So it’s just been, you know, a little over, I guess, six, seven months that I’ve had him. And he really is a sweet guy in the barn. Like he really wants to be loved. He wants to feel important. And, you know, I really try to do that for him. He had a lot of success in the junior hunters and I knew that, you know, something they had told Abby because Abby had talked to the trainer he was with when he was going in the juniors. And they said, you know, he likes to feel like a good boy. And I really remember that. And I wanted him to feel like that. So he’s very sweet. He’s always looking for attention and affection, but not in an obnoxious way. He’s just kind of a very classy guy. 

Piper Klemm [00:09:40] Oh, I love that. And, you know, Ruben likes to be a good boy too. I wouldn’t call him classy but he likes to be a good boy too. And I think it makes really special horses. 

Rachel Boggus [00:09:53] Yeah. So, you know, I always try to give them a little bit of extra attention like before, you know, the class I. I just obviously was not able to, you know, be at the show the whole week. I had to work. And so I made sure when I got to the show, I went into his stall. I took him some treats. I kind of patted his neck and I was talking to him and just saying, you know, hey, this is the bigger one. You know, we got this. You’re a good boy. You can do this. You’ve done this before and just kind of spent a little bit of time with him. So he knew that, you know, I appreciated him and he felt loved. 

Rachel Boggus [00:10:30] Tell us a little bit about having these goals and what they mean to you. It sounds so much pressure. I think a lot of us have so much pressure from work. And as you said, you know, balancing being a parent and a wife and working to put these goals on top of it. I mean, it’s it’s such a lofty aspiration that that you accomplished. But can you talk us through what what it means to you to have these goals on top of everything else? 

Rachel Boggus [00:10:56] Yeah. I’ve always been like even since I was like a child, I was a very goal oriented person. Like when I was in grade school, I wanted to get, you know, the highest grades. And, you know, I ended up having the highest GPA, if you will, of my grade school. And, you know, same thing in high school. I’ve always just been a very, like, competitive person. And I’m not sure I’ve thought about it. I’m not sure why that is. But like, I really derive a lot of, like, satisfaction from doing my very best. And I, you know, obviously it’s nice when it’s rewarded when you can win something. And so, you know, when I started riding with Abby, you know, we kind of talked about what was realistic with, you know, what I can do with my time and with my finances. And, you know, it’s not realistic that I’m going to go and do a Grand Prix. I can’t afford that type of horse. I can’t ride enough to be good enough to ride in the Grand Prix. So I you know, I said, what? What can I do? Like, what is something realistic I can accomplish? And I feel like doing the adult hunter adult jumper divisions, that’s something that I feel like is attainable for me. And so really what Abby and I talk about each year is, okay, what do we want to focus on this year? And we gear the shows, we do the horses I have, how I train. A lot of times, if there are extra horses around the barn, I’ll try to take some extra lessons. You know, what we do in those lessons is geared towards what I want to do for my goal that year. And so a lot of what I did this year, you know, was doing lessons geared towards, you know, making my hunter rounds very smooth, making my body very slow. And then, you know, on the other hand, with my jumper, you know, getting him to jump clean and how do we have the, you know, the best time without getting him too scatterbrained? And so what I try to do is just pick things that I think are realistic for me. And, you know, would it be nice if I could, you know, do the three, six, A/O hunters? Would it be nice if I could do that, You know, amateur owner jumpers? Yeah, maybe that would be nice. But I. I just don’t think that I can do that with where I’m at in my life. So I wanted to pick things that I thought I could accomplish. 

Piper Klemm [00:13:10] Talk to us about work a little bit. How do you kind of turn it on at work and then, you know, and then clear your brain and turn it on to focus at the horse show? I think that’s a lot of thing, something that many of us struggle with time to kind of put work away in the saddle. 

Rachel Boggus [00:13:23] So yeah my work I don’t put it away at the show to be honest I mean I’m sure many people have seen me sitting in my golf cart at the walnut ring on Sunday morning doing my paperwork and my charting. So I’m a doctor, I’m an anesthesiologist, and I specialize in something called interventional pain management. So I do different types of injections, you know, nerve blocks, joint injections, epidurals, all different types of things for people that have acute or chronic pain. And I do that for three different practices around town. And then I’m also a medical director of Medical Spa. And, you know, at work, my work is very busy. I see a patient every 15 minutes and sometimes I’m even double booked. You know, obviously I have to see the patient. I have to figure out what’s going on, what’s best for them, do an injection if appropriate, do all the charting, billing. And so the charting oftentimes gets, you know, gets put off. And I do that at night, you know, once my baby’s asleep or I do it on the weekend. And so I’ll literally sit in my golf cart and I’ll I’ll do charting. And so it’s hard to focus sometimes. But what I try to do is, you know, pay attention when it’s important, like the way they they do it at Kentucky a lot of times is the children’s classic is first. So, you know, someone makes it to the jump off I’ll put down the charting I’ll watch how the jump off rides and then once the down to jump off, I’ll pick it right back up and keep doing it. And so, you know, it is hard to compartmentalize. And I think sometimes it does catch up with me, like I did also show my jumper in Washington as well. And you know, the class went much later than I expected. The class started about after 7:00 and I actually had to work the next day in Indiana. And I had originally been planning on driving back. But, you know, there was no I was going to have to drive literally all night. And I was like, it’s not safe for me to be doing injections on people’s spines after, you know, not sleeping at all. So I was able to book a one way flight. And I was going to fly with my baby alone, and then my husband was going to pick me up at the airport and my mom was going to drive my car home the next day. And I was just so distracted with worrying about making the flight and like, I wasn’t prepared to fly, wasn’t planning to fly. Do I have everything I need for the baby when we’re going to take with me? And I ended up having some rails in the first round in the jumpers in Washington just because it did distract me. So it’s not like, you know, I nail it every time. You know, sometimes I do better than others. I had no work looming. I was nervous about it. And, you know, I just didn’t didn’t perform to my expectations that class. But, you know, I just do the best I can. 

Piper Klemm [00:16:10] Talk to us about growing up in the sport and then how you managed your time during during medical school, during college. You know, how what that looked like. I think a lot of a lot of young people look to role models on how how they’re going to balance this lifelong sport because it’s a lot of sacrifice early on, I think, to establish your career and then have the sport. 

Rachel Boggus [00:16:34] So, you know, I didn’t grow up showing on the a circuit. I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and I rode at a barn that did more of like the local B circuit stuff. And that’s all I knew really existed. Like, that’s just what I did. You know, my first horse was off the track. Thoroughbred. He was $8,000. I showed him for a million years. I got him when he was six and retired him at 18. I showed him in the hunters. I showed him in the eq. You know, I did him in everything. I didn’t have any grooms. I did everything myself, lunging. I tried braiding, but I was terrible at it. So I ended up hiring a braider. I did all his poulticing and his bath with refreshment and all the things. And so, you know, that’s just what I knew, you know, all through high school. And then I went to college relatively close. I went to the University of Michigan, so it wasn’t very far away. So I still kept my horses at that same barn. So I just showed at, you know, the local beef shows, as I always did, you know, and didn’t think anything of it. But then I, I went to medical school at University of Cincinnati, so it’s going to have to move my horses from kind of that Ohio, Michigan area to Cincinnati. And Mark Leone was giving a clinic at our barn. So I didn’t know anything about barns in Cincinnati. And so he recommended a few barns to me in the area. And so he recommended Skip and Anne Thornberrys barn. And so I went there and they showed on more of the A shows. And that was kind of my first experience with the A shows. And you know, they had grooms and I was like, Wow, this, Yeah, I’ve got a lot more time here because, you know, someone’s helping to get the horse ready. And I can, you know, kind of focus on the course and things like that. And, you know, during medical school I was very busy. You know, I went to Kentucky every now and then, but I also did a ton of local shows. Like there was a place called Windfall Farm. They just had local b shows. And, you know, you didn’t have to braid for it. And there were stretches where I was really busy, like on my surgery rotation and med school. I didn’t ride for three weeks, but like, you just do the best you can, you know? And sometimes what I would do is if I was on call all night, then I would just ride the next day post call. Because I you know, typically if you obviously spend the night work overnight at the hospital, you get the next day off. And so, you know, I would ride post call and, you know, I just made it happen when I could and you know, certainly showed less, you know, every now and then. But I want to keep into it. And it was nice and I think it taught me time management because I knew if I wanted to ride, I was going to have to, you know, get my studies done and make sure to dot my I’s and cross my TS if I wanted to have time to make it out to the stables. So it kept me really on task and regimented and I made myself a schedule and said, okay, if I, I get these chapters done and outlines and I can go ride. And so, you know, it’s obviously a lot of work and you have to be, you know, pretty organized to do it, But it’s definitely possible. Like I showed a horse all throughout med school. I mean, not like I’m showing now, but you can definitely do it if you want to. 

Piper Klemm [00:19:39] That’s amazing. Like that. That’s really incredible that you were able to do that. 

Rachel Boggus [00:19:46] You know, I think, you know, if there’s a will, there’s a way. And, you know, no, I didn’t have the nicest horse in med school, you know, But like it was fun. Like we went to the local shows, they had nice prizes, like it was a good time, you know, And you just kind of have to make the best with what you can do. 

Piper Klemm [00:20:02] So how did the timeline work that you evolved towards bigger goals? 

Rachel Boggus [00:20:07] So really, I again, I didn’t even know like the A Circuit existed. I didn’t even know like Florida was a thing until really I, you know, I rode with Skip and Anne and I started going to Kentucky and I was like, wow, these people are really good and these horses are really nice and like being a competitive person. I was like, All right, like, okay, I see this. Like, I got this. I can like, you know, I can try to play here. And so, you know, they got me some nicer horses again, like kind of horses. I got on a deal or a little bit quirky, and I was able to, you know, get some good ribbons there. And then I moved out to Colorado for a while to do my residency and then my fellowship. And I rode with the Dennehys and also Paul Rohrbach out in Colorado. And they showed on the local A circuit there wasn’t a huge like more local circuit there. So really that the A shows, they were all, you know, in the area so I could stay at my house, which is nice. And so I started learning about more of these national classes. Like I didn’t even know there were like national horse shows. I didn’t know like they existed. I had no idea what Pennsylvania National was or Washington was. I just thought they were like classics and they counted towards points for the show. And so then, you know, I started realizing, Oh, these are counting for nationals points and you can actually qualify for some national shows. And so I had a horse who had won the talent Search finals. Her name was Sprout Riverdance, Christy McCormack’s old horse. And I started doing the Ariat Medal, and that was kind of my first, you know, national goal is I was like, okay, I want to start doing this Ariat National Medal and try to qualify for Ariat finals. And that’s kind of the first I delved into maybe showing and having more national type goals. And so in Colorado, you know, I was able to get some points and be able to go to Capital Challenge for the first time ever. And then again realized I was completely, you know, over faced. I was like, I am not good enough to compete here. Like I need to totally go home and work on some stuff. Like if I want to win this class, I got to step up my game and after my residency and fellowship, I ended up moving back to Indianapolis and riding with Abby Blankenship again. And she’s really the one that was able to like, find me the horses I needed to get some of these national goals accomplished. So that first goal, the Ariat medal, I tried to win that medal for so many years and I would qualify for finals and I would always do something stupid like Chip or miss a lead change. Like it was just like my Achilles heel thorn in my side. And so, you know, over the years of trying to qualify for it, I had leased different horses for finals from various trainers and Stacia Madden actually contacted Abby and said, you know, Papillone, as in Papillone 136 Jessica Springsteen’s horse, she said, Papillone is ready to step down from doing the juniors. And we wanted to go to a good home. Want him to go to someone who’s not going to overuse him. Would Rachel be interested? And she knew I was looking because I had leased horses from her at Beacon Hill before. And that opportunity really opened the window for me to start like really being competitive at some of these national shows. And then I was able to win the Ariat finals with him in 2014. And then I said, okay, like I can do this. Like I actually won this. I cannot believe it. Like I can, I can win this. And so then I started, you know, having different goals, like, all right, I won an equitation final. Now let’s try Jumper and you know, Hunter and let’s see if I can like actually start doing some of these things. And so it’s just kind of evolved from there. 

Piper Klemm [00:23:56] So I interviewed you. I was part of the group that interviewed you when you won the area in 2014. Oh, my gosh. And I, I distinctly remember it because so few people have distinct goals. And the people who do have distinct goals are so afraid to say them out loud that it is so uncommon. And I still remember it because it’s so uncommon when you interview someone to be like for them to be like, Yes, this was my definitive goal. 

Rachel Boggus [00:24:23] Yeah. I wanted that one so bad. And it was a running joke with my husband. I was like, Our wedding day is like the third best day of my life. The birth of our daughter is the second best. The Ariat Finals, that was the best. Like, there’s nothing sweeter than when you work for six years to try and win that class. And then you get it. Like it’s just like such an amazing feeling. 

Piper Klemm [00:24:49] And you said that in the moment. You knew it in the moment. And I interview people that win things all the time. It really, truly like you. It was such a moment for you and it was such a moment to be there. 

Rachel Boggus [00:25:02] Because it was finally like I did it. Like, you know, because I remember after I had done it for like four years and I had I had done so badly. And one of my friends said to me, she goes, well, are you going to like, stop? I going to still do it? I was like, I’m not going to stop. Are you kidding me? I was like, I’ll do it 100 times if I have to. Like, I’m going to win this thing. 

Piper Klemm [00:25:22] It’s so interesting because like, you know, we have so many people who, you know, I think very fairly would say, well, I’m a great doctor like this isn’t my thing. But to be so determined about it, it’s just uncommon. And I know it’s sad that it’s uncommon. I don’t really know, like what it’s uncommon to be around people, and especially women who are ambitious and know exactly what they want and are willing to say it and put it out there and own their success or their rocky years. 

Rachel Boggus [00:25:54] Yeah, I mean, it it obviously all didn’t go smoothly. It took me, you know, six years to win it, you know, And I was terrible the majority of those years beforehand. But, you know, that’s like my goal. Like, I, you know, I would like to win the adult finals in the jumpers and hunters and equitation like that is, you know, my goal, you know, and everyone’s a little bit different in what they want in their riding. Like some people, you know, don’t want to have goals. They just want to go to shows and have fun. Or like, I have a friend who just prefers to like, jump a little bit bigger and she’s just happy, like going clear in the bigger class is like everyone gets something a little bit different from it and everyone, you know, derives their satisfaction from different things and like, I just really enjoyed the competition and like that feeling of like when you and like that bond you have with your horse, you can just say, you know, like we did this, like we did it like on this day and this class, like we were the best in the nation. And you may not be the best in the nation in the next class, you know, or the next year. But on this day, you know, we were and that’s a great memory to have. 

Piper Klemm [00:26:59] So what’s next? What’s the next goal covered up? Well, you know, Chevito and I, I think I would like to start trying to maybe do a little bit of the adult equitation with him. They have that new like THIS adult medal they offer at the National Horse Show. And he actually before he was even a hunter, he did the jumpers. And I looked back like I did a deep dive into his show record. He actually did some equitation, even like Luke Jensen back in the day. So, you know, I know he’s done equitation jumpers before. And I said, you know, like that might be something like realistic I could do with them. Like he’s pretty handy and he’s, you know, a pretty guy and he’s comfortable and smooth. And I said I might try, you know, doing some adult equitation with him and maybe try to do that class at the National Horse Show. So I think we’re going to, you know, strive for that. And then there’s also the NAL finals, you know, that we could do a capital challenge next year. So I’m going to kind of focus on that with him. And then I would like to, you know, the jumper I had, I was just leasing and he went back. So I’d like to find another jumper and I would like to, you know, do the Washington finals and the NAL finals with a jumper. And, you know, so I think those are kind of I’m going to focus on right now with my riding. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:14] Amazing. Rachel, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Rachel Boggus [00:28:17] Oh, yeah. Thank you so much. 

Piper Klemm [00:29:41] Kiera Phlipot is a 36 year old amateur rider based in Manchester, Michigan, who rides with Dorothy Campbell of Just A Folly Farm. Kiera And her husband Alan live on their private 10-stall farm. She currently owns Two horses, Red Roc Paddy, 14 years old, and his full sibling, younger three year old brother. Kiera’s recent accolades include 2022 USEF Horse of the Year in the 3’6″ Amateur Owner Hunter 18 to 35, 2022 USHJA national leading amateur rider and leading amateur horse for the National Hunter Derbies. Most recently Kiera placed third overall at the USHJA 3’3″ adult jumping seat medal finals, ninth in the USHJA Gladstone adult equitation final and fifth in the Taylor Harrison Insurance Services Adult Medal Finals 25 plus. Welcome to the plaidcast Kiera. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:30:31] Thank you so much for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:30:33] Can you tell us a little bit about how you do the sport? I think it’s pretty interesting. You know, the classes you pick and the horse shows and the way you’re able to put things all together. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:30:44] Well, my horse show Life really revolves around my horse and what he wants to do and what he’s able to do at this point in his show career. He’s 14 now. I got him on his fourth birthday unbroke, and we’ve brought him all the way through the green ranks and now up the amateur ranks. And he’s been doing the three six amateurs for quite a few years now. So he doesn’t have to show on professional days. We just show on the weekends. So it sort of enables me to save his jumps for the weekends, which then in turn allows me to do a few more horse shows per year, I think, than I would normally want to do if he was double divisioning. But yeah, I sort of go off what he wants to do and what our show schedule sort of is in Michigan. And the surrounding areas, obviously. World Equestrian Center in Ohio, we frequent quite often, but we tend to focus around the three six amateurs and then we do the adult equitation as well and some derbies when their available. 

Piper Klemm [00:31:55] And you and Paddi were USEF Horse of the Year amateur owner in 2022. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:32:02] Yeah, we were USEF three six, 18-35 Horse of the Year and we were also nationally USHJA Leading Amateur Derby Horse and leading amateur derby rider for the National Derby Circuit for the whole year. So that was pretty cool too. 

Piper Klemm [00:32:21] And there are so many people that want to bring along their own horse or like wanted to it. Like, could you talk to us a little bit about what it’s been like kind of on this journey and on this ride? I mean, you get this unbroken horse. Like what are your expectations? What do you think’s going to happen? Like, how does that all get started? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:32:39] It’s been a long journey. It’s paying off, though. He was actually bred by one of my best friends in college, and ironically enough, I had actually ridden his mom before he was ever even bred. And when she listed him for sale, it was actually my husband that saw he was listed online and then I purchased him. So started from scratch. Started him from the bottom. We went all the way from the baby greens and it was just slow and steady wins the race. I kind of knew he was going to be my career horse, as it were, and so I wasn’t in a rush and he wasn’t going to let me be in a rush. He was a little slow to come around to the idea of liking horse showing he was just. A little excited about it too much when he was young. But he settled into it. And that was a thing I was very thankful for that. There were a lot of early mornings. But it was a little harder because I live at home and have my horses at home. And while that’s great and wonderful and cost effective, you know, I don’t have a trainer here every day to help me put pro rides on and I don’t have the. Program to develop one quicker that a lot of these really nice show programs provide for amateurs and clients. So that took a little longer for me than it would probably someone who doesn’t have their horse at home and who does have their horse in a good show program with a professional. But that was part of the learning experience for me. Having him be at home and knowing him inside and out. You know, I think that journey we took together in almost getting there the long way actually made our partnership stronger. 

Piper Klemm [00:34:47] Did you get scared? Like where how where were you go mentally? And I you know, I say this because, you know, you’re in the Plaid Horse Adult Amateur Lounge also. And occasionally we get these posts of like, when do I give up on this horse or when do I, you know, how did that kind of go early on, Like you said, you saw him as your career horse. Were you able to just hold on to that? Like what? What kind of because your bond now is so evident and like, how did that kind of go along the way? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:35:16] Yeah, there I see those same posts and you obviously see that I comment on them and it is and it’s just it’s hard to explain to people that haven’t been through it that there is light on the other side of the tunnel. And like you said, our bond is is evident now to people who look from the outside in. But I sort of always felt like that when I got on him, like when I got on him, I sort of felt like my seatbelt was fastened and that he was just an extension of me. So we always sort of had that rapport with each other. So that helps. And I mean, like I said, there were a lot of really early mornings, a lot of time on the end of the lunge line. There were a lot of classes where I would have to circle a few times because he went to buck through a lead change and felt good or shook his head and, you know, just. Was being generally silly and it was a lot of trial and error as to how his prep went. And we tried a lot of different things like like lunging him. I’m I’m not a huge proponent for lunging. But that horse I will tell you when he needs to lunge he lets you know and but he doesn’t always need that because then sometimes he’ll get sore and you don’t. I don’t want that for him, obviously. You know, we’ve tried all the things, but really, at the end of the day, for him, it was just repetition of going being in show mode. This is what is expected of me when I’m at the horse show and then really being able to relax and feel comfortable enough on him so that. When I went in the show ring. I what? My. My energy wasn’t feeding to him. And I think that’s a lot of the partnership. I was told something a couple of years ago by a great professional I love. And she told me, she said, Your horse doesn’t know this is any different. Don’t tell him. You know, he doesn’t know. This isn’t something he’s supposed to do every day. Don’t tell him he’s not supposed to do this. Don’t clue him in. And that really stuck with me. Like, if I just act like this is something that we go do and that this is something that we’re supposed to do now, then he’s like, okay, let’s go. We’re doing this. 

Piper Klemm [00:37:38] So you you start to come up the ranks. I will say, anyone who asks me, I will say the most frustrating point of pony ownership in my opinion is when you put all the years into them and they do the greens and then they go to the regulars and their champion like once or twice in the regulars out of like a real bunch, you’re like, Oh my gosh, they’ve got it, They’ve got it. They finally got it. And then they go to the next horse show and they’re a complete green pony again. And it’s like you’re like, Oh my gosh, it’s right here. All this time and all this money and all this effort and it’s actually not quite here yet. So like when you were kind of peaking at on the early success, like what did that look like for you? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:38:23] I’m exactly like what you said. Like we would have a moment of glory. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, it’s panning out. He understands it, It’s happening. And then, like, the next week, he’s such a mental horse too that. Like the littlest thing, we’ll just get him going. So like he’ll just get set off and then all of a sudden it’s like, Well, I might as well just put him away and start over again tomorrow. Because sometimes, you know, if you lose him mentally, no amount of lunging or riding or whatever I’m going to do is going to bring him back to the, you know, playing field. But I mean, yeah, it’s just it’s trial and error and just repetition and getting them in show mode. And, you know, he was, you know, when we would go down to World Equestrian Center at the very beginning, like we’d be there for two weeks at a time. And the first week he would be like wild. And then the next week he’d be good. But then like by Sunday, he’d be starting to get the itch and then he’d be naughty again. And you’re like, Wait, you were so good and now you’re tapping out. So it was just a lot of like, figuring out what his routine wanted to be and like what program work best for us. And I will say, like, there was a moment where I was sort of exhausted with all of it, and I was like, you know, is it really worth it to keep doing this? Like, is he ever just going to come to the party and stop trying to be the loser? And there was a winter where I did two weeks in Ohio and went straight down to Florida and Ocala for two weeks and then came right back to WEC in Ohio for two weeks. And he did six weeks in a row and not double division and and not anything crazy, but he horse showed for six weeks in a row. And I feel like that repetition of you’re in a horse show this is what you do when we’re at a horse show, this is how you behave. It finally clicked for him where he was like, Oh, I don’t have to walk in the horse show ring and be silly. I can go in, do my job, go out and be done. And I wouldn’t recommend that for everybody because not all horses can handle that, obviously. But for him, that was finally like the turning point when we were like, No, you’re just going to kind of keep going until you give up, you know, stop being weird and just go in and be the horse. We know you can be. And obviously after that, we came home and he didn’t have the horse show for a while, but it was sort of his mental turning point to where he decided, I kind of like this. I can be good and I can go right to bed. Maybe that’s easier for me. 

Piper Klemm [00:40:54] Yeah. So it’s so interesting like that like dawning on them that it’s the job is pretty simple if you walk in and do it. I you know, I was talking to a trainer yesterday and she was talking about this horse and I was kind of anticipating the horses, you know, chosen to to lose a lot lately. And I was anticipating her to say like, oh, I like that horse. You know, a lot of people make flippant comments like that horse is a loser or whatever. And she was like, you know, I just think he needs like five more years to be the real winner. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:41:31] I feel that. 

Piper Klemm [00:41:32] I feel that because I was like, how few people like really feel that. And I know you feel that. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:41:40] I totally feel that. 

Piper Klemm [00:41:42] And I think but to be able to just calmly say like, Oh, I think we need another five years, like, so that’s not the culture of life right now. That’s not the culture of horse shows certainly right now. But if if you’re making one yourself, I think that’s a reality of the culture. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:41:59] Absolutely. So many so many people are lucky and able to be. Fortunate enough to have a horse in a show program that is maintained for them and they can afford to show up for their lessons and show up at these horse shows and be on these prepared and ready horses. And I’m so jealous of them. That’s so wonderful. And I’m sure on the flip side, they would say, well, I’m jealous of you. Your horses get to live at home. You get to do this all the time. And you know, there’s two sides of every coin. But yeah, it’s. It. But as as someone who keeps their horses at home and has to financially be careful and budget and pick and choose what we want to do, you know, coming to terms with the fact that this is just going to take more time and more money and horse shows is a real fact because there was no point in time where I could just send him to a trainer and afford that like what he needed. There was no point in time where I could afford to just be like, He needs to go for four months with this trainer. Bye. See you later. Meet you at the horse show. Like I was never financially able to do that. So and that just meant that I had to buckle down and do it myself. And that’s, you know, something I had to admit and do. And I wanted it, so I worked for it. But, you know, there’s a lot of different amateurs in this world now, too. You know, there’s the amateurs like me that have their horses at home and do a lot of their own work and, you know, work with trainers and in a different way. And then there’s still the people that, you know, like I would say, 80% of the of the amateurs, you know, have their horses in the wonderful show programs that they love and learn and are still able to do it that way. And that’s that’s great. It’s you know, there’s a bigger variety, I think, nowadays than there used to be in the amateur world, though. 

Piper Klemm [00:43:55] And I’ll just add it to say 80. I’m going to interpret that as 80% of people showing at the level that you show at before we get e-mails from everybody. So tell us about going to the bigger shows, going to Devon, going to indoors after, you know, you’ve had a lot of success. You have this great relationship. You know, what’s it like to to go to those shows? Because I think it’s very I’m always interested by every year by you know, it’s it’s the where champions meet. And so you have all these people that are big superstars in their local market coming together and kind of what that looks like and and what are realistic goals and what are not realistic goals and you know kind of how you how you interpret that and. You know what taking on those horse shows look like when you’ve had this partnership for that long? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:44:51] Yeah, it’s, you know, I try to give myself 1 or 2, like, goals for each year because, you know, when we budget it out, those shows are really expensive. It it’s just the fact of the matter. So I can’t afford to do like all of that. But when I pick those goals like when I picked the goal for Devon not this year, but last year in 2022, my goal was to go. And I really wanted a nice picture. It sounds terrible, but I really wanted a good picture. And my goal was to be in the, you know, lower to mid 80s. And I think that’s realistic for me and my horse. Like, yes, we were horse of the Year in three different categories in 2022, but that’s because we’re consistent at the horse shows we go to like when I go to these big indoor shows and when I go to Devon and when I go to these shows like that, like Paddi’s great. We love him for what he is. He is not the fanciest horse at the horse show, kind of by a landslide. Like he’s great. He’s a doer. He jumps while he moves, while we’ve gotten ribbons that indoors. That’s wonderful. He’s my horse of a lifetime. He’s not beating those top amateur horses like, so I just have to, you know, and that’s something that I’ve just admitted and known. But that doesn’t deter me from going like I have my own personal goals. And if we have a ribbon along the way, that’s amazing. And I’m so ecstatic and they get framed and put. But like when I went to Devon, my goal was I really wanted a good picture. So I had to make sure that my horse was jumping well square. I was doing normal things in the tack that would elicit a good picture. And you know, I wanted to be in the lower to mid 80s. And so that meant I had to be consistent and accurate. And you know, a lot of times if I’m sneaking in with my 80 threes. There is a chance for a ribbon for me, but unfortunately, I’m sort of in the situation where like my best round is in 85 and their best round is a 92. So it’s sort of like a waiting game, like, okay, are they going to miss, are they going to have a lead change or are they going to have a rail? And then I sort of have to wait to sneak in there. But like, you know, you can think that way. But I also have to sort of rationalize it as my horse is wonderful. We’re so consistent all year. I focus on what scores I can get in real company. Like if I can get an 83-84 in real company. That is huge to me. That means that I’m consistent, that my horse is jumping while he’s using himself and that I’ve done my homework to get to that point. So like for me, I have to use different goals and not have ridden goals because he’s just not at the end of that. He’s wonderful. I love him. He’s everything to me. He’s not those fancy Wellington winter horses and that’s fine. I love him, but my goals look a little different. And like, you know, we go to indoor and we’ve gotten ribbons. It’s not to say we don’t get ribbons, we’ve gotten ribbons. But you just have to change your frame of mind a little bit. When you want to go play in the big pond. 

Piper Klemm [00:47:58] So what’s next for Paddii? What is what is 2024? And I look like for him? What what are your goals? What are you looking forward to? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:48:06] That is a really good question. I. Haven’t totally figured it out. I. Have done. I’ve checked a lot of the boxes in Hunter World with him, and I love him so much. Getting another horse of the year is probably never going to happen haha he is wonderful, but that was a once in a lifetime chance. And the same thing with the derbies and all that. And I think I’m going to sort of let him dictate if we want to keep doing the three six and do that locally and by locally I mean, Michigan, Ohio and the Midwest area, that’s great. I’ve I’ve done all the indoors now except Washington. He’s just not a Washington horse. That’s not who he is as a person. But I’ve done all the indoors we’ve done some international derbies. He’s pretty much checked everything off my bucket list that I really was ever wanting to do. And we’re sort of liking the equitation a lot, too. And we’ve been pretty successful at some of these equitation finals. So I think finals wise, I’ll probably keep my focus on the adult equitation and finals, and I’d really love to win one of those one of these times. It’s really helpful now that that Taylor Harris has an older adult section. These kids keep coming out of college and they’re awesome and they’re so good. And yes, I should be able to beat them, too. But, you know. They’re so much younger. So I’m very thankful to Taylor Harris, to have the adult older section for the medal. And so, yeah, that would be like a lifetime goal for me to be able to win either that or the adult jumping seat medal or I don’t know, maybe I should put Ariat on that list. I’m not sure, but we’ll see. 

Piper Klemm [00:49:52] I went to New England finals a couple of weeks ago and same thing. I was very glad for all the age groups. I just I just watch. But in my own aspirational goals I liked having the age groups there. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:50:06] It is nice like you college kids that are still on your equitation horses that you just did Maclay finals with. Like, Thank you very much. You can stay over there. We are. We are actual adults and we’re older now. We like our own section. 

Piper Klemm [00:50:20] Well, I mean, that’s it’s a really interesting kind of pathway to like be always wanting to be something new. And, you know, I talk to a lot of people about, you know, things becoming stale or what do you do with the horse? You kind of won everything on, you know, or achieved all your goals. What’s next? And that’s a really interesting kind of next step to do. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:50:46] Yeah. And I’m super lucky that my horse is malleable enough to do two disciplines, as it were. You know, the hunters and the equitation, because not every hunter can go walk and over and do the three three jumping seat medal and not every horse that can go do all the equitation can walk in and be competitive in the Hunter Derby. So I’m super thankful and lucky that he can do both. That opens a lot more options for us, I think. 

Piper Klemm [00:51:21] But do you think that’s like the relationship opened the door to both are doing all those things or you think that’s inherent in him? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:51:28] I’m inclined to believe both can be true. I think, you know, our relationship and the fact that that horse would jump fire for me, I could aim him at pretty much anything. And and if I put my heels down, he’d say, Let’s go, mom. So, you know, whether we’re walking in the jumper ring or whether we’re walking in the derby ring, I don’t really have to worry about the jumps. And really, it’s a testament to how we train together at home to to be able to transition from. Hunters to the equitation. Not that it’s totally different style, but it is a little bit. In how you carry yourself and how his way of going is between the two. But yeah, I think his, like, his nature is. Is good enough to be able to walk into either arena and just participate. And, you know, we trust each other. So that’s that’s huge. 

Piper Klemm [00:52:26] What’s next for you? What does this kind of opened up for you and what what you want to do and what your goals are or, you know, how has having this horse changed you as a rider and your future in this part? 

Kiera Phlipot [00:52:39] That is also a very good question. You know, and that’s sort of where I’ve been mentally this fall, a little bit like what? What do I do? You know, he’s 14 going on 15. And, you know, he’s sort of right in the prime. And I don’t want to overuse them, but I don’t want to underuse them and regret not continuing to, you know, do it. So, yeah, I think I’ll do whatever he wants me to do. If he wants to keep doing the three six, great. I’d love to keep doing the derbies. I’d love to keep doing the equitation. I am about to send off his full brother to the Cowboy to get broke to ride. So that’s the next project on the horizon for me is making my next Paddi because he is he’s a he’s a full sibling. So I’m very lucky to have been able to have his mom back and recreated Paddi. And so I’m hoping that that one turns out. To be just as good, if not better, than Paddi and, you know, kind of start the cycle again, hopefully. Better this time. And that doesn’t take me as long to get where we need to go because we’ve done it once before. But, you know, every horse is different. But yeah, I think, you know, as Paddi is at his peak now and then the next couple of years starts to specialize a little bit more and maybe be a little pickier and choosier. You know, his brother will be coming up the ranks and then they can sort of, you know, pass in the night. And the next one can sort of take over the next part of my riding career. 

Piper Klemm [00:54:21] For myself personally, I almost feel overwhelmed at the prospect of getting to know a new horse as well as I know Rueben. Is it, like overwhelming? Like, do you? Is it overwhelming at all for you to to think about when you have a bond that’s deep and that many years I think about starting over. Like it just seems exhausting. So I’m so excited but also, it seems exhausting to me. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:54:47] Yeah, I’ve had like a second horse a few times now. Like I had goldfish for four years and that horse is so special to me and. I had two years ago. I had a four year old that I brought along. And then last year I had his half sister that I brought along. And they have new homes now, mostly due to the fact that they aren’t Patti, you know, they aren’t him, they aren’t my guy. They aren’t, you know, my number one when I got on Patti, it feels like home. And, you know, unfortunately for everybody else, there are always going to be second fiddle. But I will say, ever since Patti’s full sibling has been born, I’ve just sort of automatically felt comfortable with him. We’ve had that bond that replicates what I feel with Patti, and it will be really interesting to see when I finally get to ride his name, Seuss, when I finally get to ride Seuss. If I feel just as comfortable on him as I do on Patti. And I think that’s going to just be interesting because they are identical, you know, full brothers. So it’ll be interesting to see if that feeling carries over a sibling. The sibling. But yeah, I’ve done, I’ve done I’ve had a second horse. I’ve had, you know, some of them. I really get along with other ones. We’re not my cup of tea at the end of the day. And that’s horses, You know, that’s going to happen anywhere you go with any horse. And but yeah, I do think that Paddy has sort of ruined me for other horses, as it were, a horse so simpatico that it’s going to be hard to top that for sure. 

Piper Klemm [00:56:37] Kiera, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Kiera Phlipot [00:56:40] Thank you so much for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:58:00] Jess Jones is a CEO and owner of Equestrian Gardens, where she combines her passion for riding wellness and gardening. With over 25 years of corporate executive experience, Equestrian Gardens specializes in creating bespoke outdoor living spaces and decor tailored to your equestrian property or event, with a diverse portfolio ranging from the exquisite horse show and barn set ups to VIP events and landscape designs for prestigious competitions such as USHJA International Hunter Derbies, Equestrian Gardens delivers an unparalleled experience in equestrian property design and real estate staging. Jess was an accomplished hunter jumper rider as a junior and now as an adult, has wins to her credits, such as a 2019 child adult jumper Grand Champion at HITs and recently the 2022 adult amateur reserve champion. Welcome to the plaidcast, Jess. 

Jessica Jones [00:58:51] Thanks, Piper. It’s great to be here. 

Piper Klemm [00:58:53] Tell us what equestrian gardens is. I think on the outset, the concept of making horse shows more beautiful means more work. But how does that help us up when we want to elevate our experience? 

Jessica Jones [00:59:08] Sure. So Equestrian Gardens fundamentally is a lifestyle company, and the idea is really to bring wellness and wellbeing into the horse show environment as well as back home and at our farms. You know, we as riders and trainers and owners and parents, you know, we’re always on the go and there’s a tremendous amount of pressure to perform. We’re spending every single day either thinking about riding or preparing for the next event and spending time with our horses. And so, you know, I know for me, when I get to a horse show, you know, my I start thinking about like who’s watching me and am I ready? You know, all sorts of different thoughts come into my head that can create a lot of anxiety. And so the idea behind equestrian gardens is not to be the cure all for that, but it’s to bring a sensory experience through gardens and a beautiful setting so that you can take your mind off of all of the pressures and refocus on what makes you and your horse great, which is just in some ways like being in the arena and just being there. 

Piper Klemm [01:00:28] Tell us a little bit about your riding and and your own history with the sport. 

Jessica Jones [01:00:33] Oh, yeah. So I thanks for asking that question. I started started riding. Gosh, it feels like in the beginning of time for me, but I always wanted to ride. In fact, when every birthday came around, I was hoping that there was a pony in my backyard and inevitably there would be a garden. My dad was really into gardening, but at any rate, we we spent a lot of time together. I’m an only child. Me and my parents and my dad was a triathlete. And so prior to one of his triathlons, we went out to Montauk, which is not too far from where the Hamptons Classic is held today. And I asked him to go on a trail ride with me. And from there, I just I said to my dad, you know, I really, really want to do this. And I think I was probably about seven. And he said, Well, I’ll pay for it, but you have to pick up the phone. So I called what was back then and maybe still today Hidden Lake Farm out in Southold. And I called up and they asked me about my riding experience. And of course I said I jumped four feet high. And. And. rode All sorts of different horses. But I started taking lessons, you know, back then, and it just turned into a passion. I had the privilege of training with Pamela Polk and Suzy Humes. Dana heart Callahan worked with me and my first amateur owner hunter and then Karen Kirby down in Atlanta. Where I actually rode with Mandy Tosh. I had a chance to meet Mandy and Hunt back in the day. I certainly took some time off to have my son, and now I ride with Larkspur Farm up in Westchester with Leslie, Kobus and Michelle West, and they’ve introduced me to the jumper ring where I was Grand Circuit Champion in 2019 for the modified Children Adult Adult Jumpers, which was, you know, it was just really fun to think differently about riding and to go fast and to go clear to get to the base of the jump. And I look forward to doing more of that. 

Piper Klemm [01:02:52] You spent over 25 years as a corporate executive. I think the horse passion lifestyle kind of really captures all of us all all of our people. And so many people ask me, like, how can you combine, you know, corporate life with the equestrian world? How can you make all this happen? How can I spend my days at horse shows? Or they’re really like underlying questions here. Can you talk a little bit about your career and then and kind of how that how that evolves for you? Because I think so many people want that to be the direction of their life at some point when they can manage it. 

Jessica Jones [01:03:30] Yeah, sure. Well, I should start off by saying I, I went to Hamilton College, which is a liberal arts school in upstate New York, and I studied government and philosophy, but I grew up around our family businesses. And after I graduated, I really had no idea what I was going to do. My dad had started up a company down in Atlanta, Georgia, and that’s where I started riding with Karen Kerby, and I met Mandy, but it was really through my horseback riding network, I had leased a pony that year to do the the jumpers on down at Hits Ocala from a fellow named Robert Ross, and he had just started up a practice at Xerox. And I explained my background and what I was interested in, and he really gave me my my first break into into tech. I had to work really hard. I was and I knew I would always have to work really hard, you know, from my early days as as a rider. You know, I certainly grew up in a privileged family, but not, you know, I didn’t have all of the assets and the backing that was needed to compete at the highest levels. And I knew that, you know, being an executive, being a consultant was really going to get me to a place where I could afford the lifestyle that I was looking for. And back at that time, you know, in technology, especially in New York, where I’m from originally, it was definitely not on trend for a woman to go into technology. It was more likely that you’d go into into finance. But I took the leap of faith. I worked really hard, and that led to several opportunities one at Oracle for several years, then at Deloitte Consulting. And then I was head of I.T. at Weight Watchers International. You know, the thing early in my career when I was training with Dana Heart Callanan. Her her daughter is now a professional. You know, it was much ado about finding time after work, finding a trainer that would work with me at 6:00, 7:00 at night, because not all trainers do that. And then also, I would I would be on the road during the week, so I would fly out to California. I was working with Cisco and I take the redeye back on Thursday into Newark. I’d get a rental car and then I drive directly to the barn ride as long as I could keep my eyes open and then show over the weekend. So I had to make time for it. And I also, you know, I also made some sacrifices, I think like many of us at that time, I didn’t have a family or other obligations. So I put, you know, all of my earnings with a little bit set aside for an apartment and some fun into writing. I think, you know, later on, I definitely when I when I got married and then when I had my son Carter, I took time off to focus on my family. But it wasn’t intentional. You know, I took on other hobbies and and focused on sailing or yoga or running. But there was always something that I felt like was was missing. And once Carter got old enough, I’ve been a single mom for the past eight years or so, you know, and really have to be careful about where I spend my time so I can still be a mom, a career woman, and kind of all of the things, you know, I had to be careful about my budgets and find a trainer that was still operating at a really, really high level, but was okay with me saying, Hey, I only have enough to go down to Ocala for two weeks, you know, not the entire time. And by the way, I’m going to have to lease a horse probably that I’ve never been on, you know, And I’m just lucky enough to have had enough experience that that I can do that. I think now it’s a different you know, it’s a different time in life. Carter’s getting older. He’s now 13, and I have a partner who’s just wonderful and he has two kids. So the kids are a bit more independent now and it affords me the opportunity to go to more shows and I really hope to be able to focus on my writing more often than right now. I take lessons with Leslie in the show once or twice a week just to kind of keep my muscle memory up. 

Piper Klemm [01:08:18] Wow. I mean, that’s that’s amazing that you’re able to to balance all of that and and the sacrifices over the years. It’s it’s so interesting how none of us could kind of stay away, no matter how busy we are, how tired we are or how much we have going on. 

Jessica Jones [01:08:37] That’s right. That’s right. 

Piper Klemm [01:08:40] So I am pretty notoriously irresponsible when it comes to children and other things. And it’s always it’s about the long time joke forever that Adam and I were together for like 13 years before we got our first plant. And that is not really a joke, even though everyone laughs. And we don’t have a dog because I travel all the time. And Adams says that he would tell me to walk the dog and I’d be like, Yeah, I’ll do it a few minutes and then he would walk the dog. It would be time, and then he would resent me. So this is my long winded way of saying, What? How do we become a green thumb? How do we have a better relationship with plants? You know, and it’s funny you talk about that because my parents have lots of plants and a great relationship with plants, but I somehow didn’t inherit any of this. And plants just seem overwhelming to me. And it always makes everybody go after all the big things. But it’s a little details that take me down in life. 

Jessica Jones [01:09:49] Yeah. Oh, my gosh. So many, so many good points there. I think I guess what’s what’s really interesting about this business and this this challenge with equestrian gardens is that not every plant and every container can survive in our environment. You know, we have like occasional micro blasts like we had this past summer up in Saugerties or, you know, just piercing hot sun. You are into the interiors of the barn are fully shaded, of course, you know. And while things might last perfectly well in June, the summer months are really tough. And then, you know, not to mention many of us go to Florida where you just have different different types of plants. And and that’s where I did a lot of testing this past summer at hints to see what works, what doesn’t. Now, that’s, of course, in the Northeast climate. And I’m looking forward to this winter. I’ve already established relationships with several suppliers down in Florida who are expert at their craft, which is growing. So, you know, my goal is to provide both containers because that’s really, you know, the vessel that these the plants are surviving in the right soil type and the right flowers that are going to last through the different seasons and or select plants, you know, like I did four heads, which, you know, they might they might do really, really well in the spring, but we don’t have to rip and replace them through the middle of the summer. We might just have to remove like 1 or 2, 1 or 2 plants. So the job then for you, Piper, is you can focus on your horses or your work, you know, and all the things that are important to you. And my job is to select the right flowers so that, you know, your job might just be to water or for me to give you a little pack of fertilizer to include once a week and to make those recommendations so that, you know, we’re not just buying plants because they’re alive. There’s as much waste that goes into buying plants and then having them die and throw, you know, and throwing them out, you know, as there does, and using materials that are maybe not beneficial for the Earth. But the goal is really for the plants to live as long as they can and then to use composting or other methods so that this is really a reuse and recycling environment. Sorry, went on a bit of a rabbit hole in that room, but it’s a topic that I’m passionate about. 

Piper Klemm [01:12:42] Oh, I love it. And I love that you mentioned composting. I’m really I am really into composting. We’re in an apartment now, so I had I have to figure out a new a new composting plan from from being at our house with the yard for so long. But I think being again, being on the road, it’s like there’s so many hard things and so many hard decisions and it’s so hard to eat healthy. And the compost has been the number one thing to actually help me eat healthy because it’s so binary. If you are composting, you’re eating the right things. If you are not composting, you’re not eating the right things. 

Jessica Jones [01:13:16] It’s very clear cut. I would say to just as an add on, you know, having the right plants around your home and your farm and your garden setup, that’s one thing. But then there’s an additional challenge, kind of bringing plants into the ring on top of them, you know, being many times in the piercing hot sun. You know, we’re also, you know, they’re getting blasted with like non-potable water, which is which is fine, but they have to be the right plant types to be able to survive that type of environment. And they have to be in the right containers so the jump crew can easily, easily manage them. 

Piper Klemm [01:13:57] Absolutely. And it’s the first person to really say this so clearly to me years ago, as well as Pat Boyle, that people, when the ring is dressed up and when everything, looks incredible. Horses know it, people know it, and they rise to the occasion and they jump better and they have better rounds and it makes competition better. And, you know, I don’t think it’s you always think about all of these layers, but the horses know when it’s special and they know when the rings really well decorated and and they know what a lot of work has gone into it and they feel their riders excitement and heart beat ready to to perform at their highest level. 

Jessica Jones [01:14:33] That’s so true. There are so many riders that came up to me, you know, and trainers as well that were either part of the International National Derby over the summer or had watched from afar. And they were just like, more of this, please. Like this is, you know, this is great. And to your point, they really felt like, you know, both the riders, the trainer, the owner, the horse, you know, all all felt the amount of effort and energy that has gone into making the ring in the course landscape look beautiful. 

Piper Klemm [01:15:05] Jessica Jones, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Jessica Jones [01:15:09] Thank you, Piper. I appreciate the time. 

Piper Klemm [01:16:21] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit You can find show notes at Follow the Plaid Horse on all the social media’s. You can subscribe to the print edition of the Plaid Horse magazine at Please rate and review the plaidcast anywhere you listen to it. And if you enjoy this episode please share it with your friends, I will see you at the ring!