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Plaidcast 357: Stephanie Danhakl & Callie Seaman by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

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Piper speaks with top amateur riders Stephanie Danhakl and Callie Seaman, who were both recently champion at Indoors while juggling the many aspects of adult life outside of the show ring. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!

GUESTS AND LINKS:

  • Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Guest: Stephanie Danhakl is a 36 year old amateur hunter rider and mother-of-two based in Dover, Massachusetts. She trains with Scott Stewart at Rivers Edge Farm in Flemington, New Jersey. She’s been competing since she was 13 years old.
  • Guest: Callie Seaman is a top amateur jumper and hunter rider who trains with Heritage Farm in Katonah, New Year. Callie currently serve as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the African Impact Foundation. Callie graduated from NYU with her masters in Global Public Health this past May, and is currently taking the year to focus on her riding and philanthropic work before starting her public health career next year.
  • 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
  • Subscribe To: The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Sponsors: Purina Animal Nutrition, America Cryo, Alexis 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 [00:01:05] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of the Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up today on episode 357, we will continue to talk with amateur riders in our sport. These two are both recently champion at Indoors in the Hunter divisions, Stephanie Danhakl and Callie Seaman. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:02:33] Stephanie Danhakl is a 36 year old amateur hunter rider and mother of two based in Dover, Massachusetts. She trains with Scott Stewart at River’s Edge in Flemington, New Jersey. She’s been competing since she was 13 years old. Welcome back to the plaidcast, Stephanie. You’ve had quite an exciting year. Can you tell us about how you planned it all out and how it ended up going? 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:02:55] Yes. So I have my son, Miles, and who he’s turning two in January. And at the beginning of the year, I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, which was a little bit of a surprise, but a good one. And and so basically, the whole year I had been pregnant, but I wanted to keep up with my showing. And so I showed all through Florida and Devon and took a little bit of a break after when I got into my third trimester. And then we welcomed our daughter Lydia in September, which was very, very exciting for Miles to have a little sister and for us to have a daughter and a son now. And I was back showing at Washington and the National Horse Show, and they both went really well and ended up grand champion at both of those shows. And now we have a little bit of a break until Florida. So the year has been it’s been a great year. It’s been really exciting and a little bit different having, you know, being pregnant and also having miles and trying to compete and raise kids and just grapple with everything and juggle everything. It’s it’s a lot. But I’m very lucky to be able to to do this sport. And I still want to prioritize it, even though it’s a little bit harder being a mom and taking care of a family. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:45] I know all of these are very personal decisions and we talk a lot in the Plaid Horse Adult Amateur Lounge about riding while pregnant and you’re one of the very high profile show riders that they kept showing for a long time. I think kind of attitudes have changed a little bit and people are riding longer and maintaining their life a little bit. Can you talk about making all these decisions and as you said, keeping riding up priority for you? 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:05:13] Yes. Well, I actually didn’t even tell anyone, including my trainer, that I was pregnant until pretty far along because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. And I felt great. I felt totally comfortable riding. I have a really good group of horses that I trust now, but I definitely had some arguments with some of my friends about it, and there are a lot of differing opinions. I’m kind of of the mind that everyone’s situation is different and people need to do what’s best for them and what feels right. So I tried not to judge what other people do and don’t, you know, try to if people are judging me for it, I try to just ignore it and do what I think is is right. And I had a healthy pregnancy, you know, was getting regular checkups and everything was tracking well. So I didn’t see why I should stop doing something that makes me really happy and keeps me healthy and fit. Why I needed to to stop doing that until the end when when my stomach was bigger and I was, you know, just becomes a little bit riskier, I think. And at that point, I was I felt like it was time to. You just take a couple of months off and, you know, still stay fit and exercising, but. Not being on horseback. And I thought, looking back, I’m really happy with. How I mean, how it all went. And I don’t have any regrets or any changes for that. But I definitely think people need to make their own decision and. Given their. Their own circumstances. But for me, it worked out well to keep riding and to get back riding pretty soon after my pregnancy because I had a really you know, it all went really smoothly. 

Piper Klemm [00:07:32] Some of your horses you’ve had for years and years. Can you tell us about. I think I had you shown Golden Rule like for ten years or something? I think I read that down somewhere. 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:07:43] Yes. I said, Well, so golden rule or dreamy, I still have him. He’s not showing any more, but I still keep him and ride him at home. And then. But my horse Quest, I actually got him even a little bit before Golden Rule. I think I’ve had him for 11 years now. I got them almost at the same time. But he I got him even a few months before and he’s still showing. And he is really a phenomenal horse. He just seems to get better with age. He showed this indoors and he was a reserve champion at Washington to my my younger horse, Austin. But it’s really nice to have horses over a long period of time that you trust. And I just know him so well at this point. Makes me really, you know, I’m so comfortable on him. And I also showed at indoors a horse named Austin who is a stallion. He’s seven years old. I’ve had him for three years. And another horse, Bright Side, who is 13, I believe I’ve had him for five years. So all my horses that I was showing I’ve had for a number of years, they’re pretty experienced. I wouldn’t want to be riding, you know, a really green horse or a really fresh horse when being pregnant. So I just kind of use my judgment. If my horse felt really fresh, I would just get off typically rather than usually. I always want to work through it myself and but just not taking as many risks and trying to stay safe. 

Piper Klemm [00:09:51] Talk to us about kind of your regular riding schedule, how you ride at home and go to the horse shows and as you said, wanting to work through it all the time. I think we’ve talked a lot about kind of the thinking side of the sport and it is interesting how much of that you are able to keep up with by watching and paying attention and not even being in the saddle. 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:10:14] Yeah, I Think that for me, I want to prioritize my time with my family and I don’t like leaving them unless I absolutely have to for a horse show. So in Florida. I was able to ride a lot pretty much every day. And I brought my son Miles with me. My husband was there. For a lot of the time. He would go back and forth. And so I was able to be down there with him, with Miles and then ride a bunch, which was really, really great. But then when I go home after the circuits over and I mean, we live in Dover, which is about 30 minutes outside of Boston. I don’t really see my horses unless I’m at a horse show for until Florida again. So sometimes I’ll fly. I’ll go. I used to go to New Jersey and practice, especially leading up to a competition, but now I don’t really do that as much. I pretty much I have some horses that I ride at home and I found honestly, that it doesn’t make that much of a difference for my riding if I’m practicing on my show horses versus the horses I have at home, which. Makes it easier for me not feeling like I have to leave. And it’s just been kind of a trial and error. I. Before I had kids, I would always. Go to New Jersey and practice a bunch, have lessons before a big competition. And now I’m just kind of doing doing it myself here. And obviously Scott and Ken and all my horses are really well prepared and I keep in touch with Scott a lot. Throughout the year, just checking in on the horses. He’s really good about sending me videos, telling me what they’re all doing if there’s a horse with an injury. I’m really involved with the vet and Scott and just making sure that their recovery is progressing. But the other ones, you know, I, I keep up on what they’re doing while I’m not with them and then I can just focus on just really getting saddle time and staying fit and up here. But I don’t feel like I really need to be jumping a whole lot. In order to, to stay practiced. And I think also that’s from I I’ve had I’ve been so lucky to have such amazing trainers from the very beginning. I started out with a really great dressage trainer named April Atwell. And and then Archie Cox was integral and just teaching me basically everything I know about riding. Giving me so many lessons and and and just whenever I am with Scott and Ken they give me invaluable advice. So I always try to remember what I’ve learned and what I’ve been told when I’m riding here, and it’s pretty much ingrained in me at this point. So I can kind of be riding around and think, Oh, you know what, I’m not I need to fix this or that and and kind of. Do that at home. And then that helps me prepare for the shows. 

Piper Klemm [00:14:14] You’ve had such a long winning career already. Does it ever get old? Does it still feel as exciting as it did? You know, what keeps you driving forward with with new young horses and the excitement? Is that always just that drive is there for you or, you know, as things change? I mean, I know over the years, you know, you’ve gone to grad school and you’ve balance with all these challenging things and you keep showing up, which so many things in life, you know, essentially knocked people out of the sport for this or that or the other reason or they get off, you know, that schedule and it’s hard to get back on. 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:14:53] Yeah, it’s interesting. I was thinking about this recently where the a lot of the my competition when I was a junior, most of them are either trainers or they’ve quit. And because they’ve have families. And I think it is really hard to have a family and, you know, be married, have kids and continue to do this at this level because it’s it is really. You know, it can be all consuming and. But I. And sometimes I ask myself, you know, why do you do this? It is it’s it’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot of. You know, just. Trying to. Trying to stay in shape. Trying to. Juggle everything, scheduling, you know, everything with the kids. And then when I’m gone, trying to make sure that everything’s covered in my absence and, you know, going down to Florida and going to all these competitions. I mean, it is and it is a lot, but I love it so much. I feel so lucky to be able to do it. And it’s so worth every, you know, effort that it takes to me and. I don’t know. I think that I’ve always loved horses. It was never something that. Anyone pushed me to do. It was something that I 100% wanted to do all the time I begged my parents to let me ride and I knew my parents in high school. I never wanted to go to parties or do anything besides ride. My parents would try to beg me, like, Won’t you go to prom or won’t you go? And I was always wanting to go to bed early, wake up so I could ride and go to horse shows. It’s just always been something that I’ve loved so much, gotten so much enjoyment out of. And it really feels like a part of my identity. And I think especially being a mom, you you can it’s very easy to lose part of yourself and your kids. And for me, I, I think it’s so important for me in my identity to have this. And it makes me more present, I think, when I’m with my kids because I’m I feel so lucky to have them and to also be able to still do what I love, which is riding and being around horses. 

Piper Klemm [00:17:45] That’s such an interesting observation that that so many of you know, as you’re kind of crossing from the younger to the older amateur owner division now that like that that time gap, so many of them have either turned professional and went all in or like quit completely And and I think so many sports reflect that data that like there’s so many people if they can’t do it how they used to or at the highest level it’s almost like you know they they can’t process doing it at all. 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:18:15] Yeah, it’s an all or nothing attitude. And I mean, I guess I’m still doing it all the way, but. And there is something about I feel like I could do it at a lower level or not compete. And that would take some of the pressure off but I really do. It. It doesn’t really get old to me. I love bringing along young horses with my trainer, obviously, and riding different horses, figuring out different horses. You know, every horse is so different and has something special about them. So bringing out what’s special about each horse is something that I really love to do, and I really do it. I mean, it is for me, but I also for these horses, they give us so much I really want them to. Show the horse world, what they’re made of and that that was one of the reasons why I really wanted to get back into the show ring so quickly after I had Lydia. And because my horse Bright side I’ve had for a long time and just with Covid and various injuries, I’d never been able to bring him to indoors. And I knew that if I got there. Or if he got there, that he would he would shine. And this was kind of our year to do that. And I was hoping that. Everything would go smoothly enough so that I was ready to to compete it indoors and show him. And and it turns out I was able to do that. And and he was grand champion at both shows which was totally. Really exciting. And. But. For me. I, I knew that he could do that. And I’m just I’m really happy that it worked out that way because luck has to be on your side, too. But he should have that honor of being champion at those shows because he so deserves it. 

Piper Klemm [00:20:31] Okay, so you have the baby in September. Are you already like are you already thinking prior to to giving birth at your are you seeing indoors on the horizon? Is that like how do you map this out? And how do you. Because getting a horse to peak and getting yourself to peak, I mean, is a long process that you have your eye on this and kind of tell everyone that that this was your goal or did you like a few weeks out feel like I could do it?

Stephanie Danhakl [00:21:02] Scott and I. Were talking a little bit about it. I think that I. It was one of those things where I was trying to stay in really good shape through the pregnancy so that I would feel good enough to do indoors. And still, I think that sometimes doctors will tell you, you know, take it easy. Do like don’t. Try not to be as physical, but I don’t think that’s. I don’t know. I just don’t buy it. I think that it’s always good to stay in shape and to exercise as long as you feel up to it. So I never did anything I didn’t feel I could do, but I definitely worked out pretty much every day and and even like leading to the day gave birth. And then I was working out like a couple of days later and I felt fine doing it. So I just didn’t see I just kind of kept going. And I started riding two weeks after, but I really didn’t have time to because, I mean, having a newborn is, I obviously have helped too. I wouldn’t be able to do, you know, to do any of this without help with childcare. My husband was really helpful. My mom was there and we have a nanny as well helping. So it’s definitely a group effort. But I was able to get away for, you know, an hour a day to ride my my one horse or one of my horses up here. And and yeah, I just did that every day. And. I talked to Scott a couple of times and I actually was was going to try to do Capital Challenge, which maybe would have been that was like. Maybe 3 or 4 weeks out after giving birth. And I just didn’t want to leave. I was still breastfeeding, and I just it wouldn’t have worked. But I thought, you know, while Washington is a. Is a doable goal. So. I got to the show. I actually flew in the – I wanted to still put the kids to bed. So I flew really late the night before and we were showing the next day and I just got to the show, got on in the schooling ring. And I think I was the first one to go in my division and I just went in and that was that. It felt I was a little bit. Like, am I really doing this? This seems a little bit. Crazy. But again, I felt like I could do it. And. And. It worked out well. So I guess I, you know, I did. But I think you definitely have to have a little bit of a screw loose. I mean, most people would not be doing this. I know, but. I don’t know. I think I probably do have a little bit of a screw loose and. But I definitely felt like I could do it. 

Piper Klemm [00:24:29] Stephanie No matter how successful people are, they always have their it happens moments. Do you have one you want to share with us on the plaidcast? 

Stephanie Danhakl [00:24:37] Yes, last. The National Horse Show last year I was competing on my horse Quest. I’ve been showing him, like I said, for 11 years or something. We’ve been to that show a number of times, and I went off course in the handy round. I jumped the first part of the course. Then I skipped two jumps in the middle, and then I finished the course and it was a beautiful round. I thought I was very happy. I was had a big smile on my face when I finished, but nobody clapped and I thought, Did I have a rail what, you know, what happened? And then it all of a sudden dawned on me, Oh my gosh, I forgot two jumps in the middle of the round. And we had been competing really late at night. And I think that I just totally blanked and it ended up kind of ruining the championship for us. But which I was very upset about for my horse. But, you know, it was almost you had to laugh because I’ve never done that before. And it was just something I will never do again. 

Piper Klemm [00:26:00] Stephanie, thank you for joining us on the Plaidcast.

Stephanie Danhakl [00:26:03] Thank you, guys. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:20] Callie Seaman is a top amateur jumper and hunter rider who trains with Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York. Callie currently serves as the vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the African Impact Foundation. She graduated from New York University with her master’s in global Public Health this past May and is currently taking a year to focus on her riding and philanthropic work before starting her public health career next year. Welcome to the plaidcast, Callie. 

Callie Seaman [00:28:46] Thank you so much for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:47] You’ve had a great indoor season. Can we take a step back and talk about how you got started riding and getting going in the sport for you? 

Callie Seaman [00:28:55] Yeah, so actually I started riding because of my mom. When I was little, she used to take lessons and ride and she would bring me with her to the barn so I would get to watch her go. And I always asked if I could ride the horse, too. So my mom started me out in a lesson farm riding ponies, and it kind of went from there to that first Christmas asking for my first pony. 

Piper Klemm [00:29:18] And then you came up the ranks. How did you decide that you wanted to be an amateur and kind of how to structure your life as as you got older? 

Callie Seaman [00:29:26] Yeah, that’s a great question. So I stopped riding after my junior career was over, and I really just wanted to take a gap year and then go to school and not have riding for a minute. By my junior year in college, I just missed it so, so much. So I started riding on the club team at Duke where I was at school and then asked my parents if I could get back into it. Bought a couple horses to start my amateur career, and then once I graduated, I really wanted to see if I could get back in and be really competitive, maybe even more competitive than I was as a junior. And so at that point, I made the decision to move to Heritage. And so that was in my first amateur year that I made that move. And it’s been really successful ever since. 

Piper Klemm [00:30:21] As a junior, you must have been really focused on schoolwork too. How did you balance that? 

Callie Seaman [00:30:27] Yeah, definitely. I think it’s really tough for juniors to I think it’s even less about just managing schoolwork and riding, But also that’s such a vulnerable point I think, in everyone’s life where you’re just trying to figure out who you are and, you know, friends and social activities and being involved in school. Those are all sacrifices you make when you want to be a really competitive junior rider. And I think that’s where my decision at first to stop riding after my junior year to really get to go to college and be a little bit more involved in school came in. And then as an amateur, I. Took a few years to just ride, which was really an amazing experience. And then the plan was always to go to school. I did do a little bit of work here and there. I worked for a company called Bustle and I even interned for Jen Wood Media one year during Florida. So I was always kind of doing stuff in the background, But the plan was always to ride and then go to school. And so I did that last year after a few years of surgeries and health struggles kind of made that impossible. I got to do that a couple of years ago and just graduated this past May. And I will say that juggling school sort of your life outside the barn and and riding competitively is not an easy task. I think it’s really difficult. 

Piper Klemm [00:31:55] Talk to us a little bit more about overcoming health struggles. I think it’s something that a lot of people don’t talk about. But this is a lifelong sport. I mean, there is there’s no way to go about it without every everyone handling, you know, their own struggles. And I think people are very, very private about it for good reason. But you know, what’s that been like coming back into the saddle and holding yourself to these high standards. 

Callie Seaman [00:32:20] Yeah, I definitely think as riders, you know, it’s not just our horses that get hurt a lot. I think that we get hurt a lot. And I think, you know, my generation grew up with kind of that mentality of either you’re going to the hospital or you’re getting back on. And I think that created a little bit of a culture where sometimes some of us in the older generations are a little bit hesitant to feel like we’re complaining, because I think all of us are aware that so many of us have had injuries and surgeries. And so we kind of just put on a brave face and don’t talk about it much. For me, at least, I had suffered from back problems and back pain since I was a teenager. And I think the line of thinking almost even just outside of the horse world at that time was a little bit like, Oh, she’s young, there’s nothing wrong. And there was a little bit of hesitancy on the part of a lot of my doctors at the time to really figure out what was going on. And so it wasn’t until I was in college that I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in my back. I think those early sort of injuries didn’t necessarily come from the riding, but the riding kind of helped that degeneration in my spine along at a much quicker pace than I think and people who don’t participate in sports. And so it was kind of one surgery after another after another trying to tackle sort of a problem that was a little bit too far gone at that point. And I think for me, and I think for a lot of riders, riding was really what helped me keep a positive attitude because the goal was always to get back on a horse. And so I think through every recovery, every injury, it’s always been, okay, how do I get myself to a place where I can get back on a horse and feel that joy again? And so I think there’s a lot of sort of resilience in the riding community, a lot of grit, determination. You know, we have this thing that we have to get back to, and that’s what’s most important to us. And so I think that also creates that sort of tough outer shell that a lot of us have to just get better and get back on the horse. 

Piper Klemm [00:34:34] I’m showing you as an amateur, you’ve always kind of also done some of your own pathway a little bit. I’ve seen you in the professional divisions like Devon. You’ve done the International Derbies and International Derby Finals a number of times. Can you talk about having kind of different goals and and achieving them and even conversations with your trainers and what that’s like? 

Callie Seaman [00:34:58] Yeah, that’s really interesting. So I think for me, I have so many interests in riding and so it’s never been about focusing just on the jumpers or just on the hunters. I love both equally. I think that in all honesty, talent wise, I’m a little bit more gifted in the Hunter ring, but I just have a love for the jumpers and they just put a smile on my face. So I don’t ever want to stop my goals in that ring either. I think. Having different horses do different things is always really exciting and it keeps things really interesting. The past few years, I’ve also bought a bunch of young horses and wanted to be a part of that process of bringing a young horse up and developing them and learning those ropes, because I think that teaches you horsemanship and really teaches you how to ride so many different types of animals and it keeps you learning every day. I think sometimes if you just stick to one thing, you forget that riding is something unusual, maybe in other sports where we’re always learning and always getting better. And I think that by giving yourself a variety of options, a variety of goals, a variety of rings to show in, I think maybe that process happens quicker or that you get to sort of learn things more, and that only helps you as a rider. I think my interest in showing in the professional divisions really came from the creation of that Derby division. Getting to show hunters over really more beautiful sort of exciting courses and jumps and at higher levels. Kept my interest in the Hunter Division part of our sport, and I really enjoyed competing at that height. And so once I sort of started buying Derby horses, that could jump a bigger height. It just seems like a natural progression to then go into those professional divisions like the high performance. It’s a challenge every day and so it’s exciting. And again, you feel like you’re learning. 

Piper Klemm [00:37:18] Walk us through like how you have these conversations, because I think a lot of people want to do different things and maybe don’t know how to approach it with their trainers or do you make a plan for the year and this is part of your annual plan or how does that go? 

Callie Seaman [00:37:33] I think that sort of from the onset of when I first came to Heritage, it was an initial conversation about what are our goals and what divisions do you want to do? And then it becomes about finding the right horses for that. Some of the decisions about what divisions we show in and what each horse does happen more organically, kind of based on the horse as we get to know them. I can speak to my horse, Deamonte, who is my Derby horse and high performance horse at the moment. I think that when I got that horse, he was a jumper in Europe, was doing meter 60 grand prix And so we bought him specifically for the Derby division. Knowing that you really do need that level of scope, especially if you want to be competitive at Derby finals. Initially, the decision to show him in the High performance division came from getting to know him. Okay, so I’m going to be planning on doing all these really big derbies. I should probably learn how to do a hunter round beautifully at that height in a less intense environment. So entering him initially in those divisions came from that, right? From both him and I learning how to execute a beautiful hunter round at a bigger height, in a less intense environment such as a derby. I think we just realized that that horse really excels at that height and does well at that height, and I enjoyed showing him at that height. So we just kind of kept him in that division. I think other times, you know. As you get more in depth into your career and you have a string of horses, you lose a few to injury or what have you. And so then the discussion becomes, okay, we have this many horses for this division. What are you interested in? And the trainers and I will kind of sit down and say, What are we lacking? What do we need and what are the goals for this year? So I think. It definitely was a conversation that Heritage and the trainers initiated when I first arrived. And then these conversations happened, I would say, throughout the year, but at least once a year to sort of say, hey, what are our goals for this year and how do we accomplish that? And then the search for horses sort of comes organically from those decisions. 

Piper Klemm [00:39:57] Talk about how you kind of manage your time at a horse show because you’re dealing with work, you’re managing previous injuries, you’re trying to peak at certain times. You know, I always think like it’s interesting that so many classes are during the day or early in the morning, all year long, and then you have some of these finals like the Spectacular in Wellington or Derby finals, where, you know, it’s a really different schedule to to pick yourself and your horses at night. And how do you manage all of these micro decisions throughout the horse show season? 

Callie Seaman [00:40:35] Yeah, it’s definitely complicated to manage horses schedules, especially because they’re so different all year long. And then you sort of have these championships like Devon and Derby Finals, which are at the beginning and the end of the summer, and then you have these indoor seasons. And so it isn’t like, you know, you have all these competitions during the year and then you only have to peak at one point during the year. So it’s definitely complex because different horses and you have to be at top form at very different points and sometimes multiple points a year. I think for horses in training, that’s maybe gotten a little complicated just because it makes it tougher, in my honest opinion, to keep them healthier all year long. You know, it’s tough to plan the schedules because you have to qualify for these big events. So you got to show enough to qualify. So it’s really a delicate balance of managing their performance and their health as well as our health. You know, when it’s not time. And in order to qualify for those divisions, you know, I think in terms of balancing sort of your life outside of riding work, school, whatever that will be, that’s so complex and so unique, I think, to each person and a struggle that so, so, so many people in the riding world go through. For me this year is a really. Exciting year because I’m sort of maintaining my focus preliminarily on the riding. I graduated with my master’s in global public Health this May and decided that I was going to take the year before I look for a regular full time job to just focus on the riding and my philanthropic work. And so that’s really opened my schedule. I think it’s been great for my riding because I get so much more time to practice than I did in three years previously and great for my horses, because I truly believe that bond between horse and rider is what will ultimately determine whether or not you you have success. You can have the best rider and the best horse, but if they don’t have that bond or they’re not in sync or they don’t know each other, mistakes are going to happen regardless of how talented the rider or the horse is. And so that balance I’m really familiar with. My three years that I was in graduate school, I really didn’t get to ride very much other than the summer. I remember indoors last year I pretty much only had the ability to pick two indoors and I did not ride or practice at all. I just showed up to those indoors, did my best. It went really well considering. But yeah, that was sort of added. Disappointment, I think, in that I missed the horses and also just added a lot of stress. You know, I see a lot of my fellow amateurs now are having children and babies and so on top of their jobs, on top of their growing families. Now they’re having to juggle that. And I really just think life in general is about figuring out how to juggle those things. And so I have a lot of admiration. You know, maybe I’m biased, but especially for my fellow amateurs who are trying to compete at the highest levels and juggling so much at the same time. I think it’s really difficult. I don’t think there’s any one real secret to it, and I don’t think anyone really has it all figured out. But I think you just do the best with what you can. 

Piper Klemm [00:44:13] Talk to us about indoors this year and how that was how that was different for you and how it all came together. 

Callie Seaman [00:44:22] Yeah. So indoors leading up to indoors, I think for me this year looked quite different. A few of my top horses got hurt at the beginning and the end of Florida and were out sort of for the whole year as a result. My Derby horse, Diamanté stepped down and started competing in the three six amateurs so that I would maybe have another horse to show it indoors. And so going into the indoor season this year, I was a little apprehensive and a little just saddened, I guess, because I didn’t have that normal group of horses that I have or sort of the number of horses that I normally have. But I knew that sort of two of the horses that I had were really, really special and could do really well. The first one was a newer horse for me who’s also very young. That’s the Divine Romance Horse. She’s six. I bought her at the end of her 4 or 5 year old year, five year old year. And Patricia did her my trainer, Patricia Griffith, showed her because she was really quite green just so we could get to know her and to give her some experience. And then I finally started riding her at the beginning of this year. I did her in the adult division in the three foot because we didn’t think she was quite ready for anything, a little bit bigger than that. And she just amazed us all. She’s still really green, but she has incredible quality. She was circuit champion in Florida and the adults, she was champion everywhere she showed this summer. She’s just a really special horse. But of course, she’s six and green. And so going into indoors, you have that apprehension of is she going to be able to handle that intense environment? It’s the first time she’s showing inside. You know, it’s a different atmosphere. The lighting is different. She’s young, The jumps are a little bit, you know, more attractive and interesting to look at how she’s going to feel. So I would say I had apprehension and excitement about showing her. She stepped up to the plate in a way that just showed the incredible amount of growth that she’s gone through in the last year and the incredible job that both my trainer, Patricia, and then my trainer, Laena Ramond, taking over for Patricia the last few weeks. While Patricia has been hurt, just the amount of work they’ve put into her and just how mature she has become. She was grand champion with my trainer Laena Raymond in the three three greens and then was grand champion with me and the adults. And that was sort of. A pinch me moment because when you’re going into indoors with a with a young green horse, you’re kind of just hoping that it goes well and that you do your job. So for her to win that match was really exciting. And then the second horse that I had competing was my horse Moonshine. And that horse has really had a standout year. I have had that horse for a couple of years. I initially did him in the three six division when I bought him, and then I moved him down to the three threes. He has had really a fairytale year and gotten a lot of recognition that I think that he always really deserved. He’s an awesome horse. He had an incredible hunter week at WEF he got a 92 and the highest scorer award. He was second in that three three night class during Hunter Week. And then every single show this summer, he was champion and or grand champion, which was just unbelievable. Hits has that big money week. They had a $50,000 national derby. And I decided, hey, what the heck? Why don’t I enter him and see how it goes? And he ended up winning that. And it just was kind of like unreal that he has come to every single horse show this year and just performed as well as he has. He had a really great Harrisburg. He won the challenge round and then to end up champion at the National. Our last show of the year was just icing on the cake. So yeah, I would say going into indoors this year was a little different. I have fewer horses than normal, but I had two really great horses. And so I think for the for the young horse, it was apprehension about can I do my job and can I make sure that I help her have a good experience? And if anything, make sure she learns from this experience. So I was scared to sort of make mistakes. And with the other horse who’s older and more experienced, it was sort of that apprehension of, Oh, I want to win so badly. I hope I do my job well enough just for him. 

Piper Klemm [00:49:14] Speaking of mistakes, no matter how much we all win, everybody and people like you make mistakes out there. Do you have and it happens moment to share with us. 

Callie Seaman [00:49:24] Oh yeah, I have plenty of them. One sort of big one that comes to mind was during Hunter Week this year on my wonderful horse, Deamonte, who thank goodness for his scope and his bravery and his willingness to just take my faults and make good with them. There was in the handy round for the 3’6 amateurs. There was an inside turn that when we walked the course we were all eyeing up. And I have no shame in admitting that when it was suggested that we do that inside turn, I was thinking to myself, Oh great, I really, really don’t want to do that. As I was going into the ring, I told myself, Hey, you are on a derby horse. He can jump the moon, you know, put on your riding pants and get it done. This is how you’re going to win this class. And as I was going around the handy, it was all going really well. I was feeling great. And I came up to that turn and I went through the turn and I didn’t see a distance. And instead of trying to help my horse out and figure it out, I kind of just sat there absolutely frozen. Never made a decision. The poor horse had to figure something out. He somehow got to the other side and didn’t hold it against me and jumped the next jump. And I definitely came out pretty mortified. I think, you know, we all have those moments where the distance just doesn’t appear. Usually, given our experience, we can sort of make something work and, you know, figure out whether we just need to leave long or if we can add one in. But that was definitely a moment where I was like, Wow, because I just froze and left it all to my horse. So I think, you know, one thing I will say is I’m very lucky that I have really incredible horses that even when I make the worst mistakes, they will always take care of me. 

Piper Klemm [00:51:21] Callie, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Callie Seaman [00:51:24] Oh, thank you so much for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:53:02] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit theplaidhorse.com. You can find show notes at theplaidhorse.com/Listen. Follow The Plaid Horse on all the social medias. You can subscribe to the print edition of The Plaid Horse magazine at theplaidhorse.com/subscribe. 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! 

Cira Malta

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