Plaidcast 365: Stella, Juliette & Clara Propp and Randi Heathman by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Plaidcast Episode 365 Stella Propp Juliette Propp Clara Propp Randi Heathman


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Piper speaks with a family of three equestrian sisters, Stella, Juliette & Clara Propp, who compete in the hunters and jumpers at the top level while also balancing school. Education Consultant Randi Heathman also joins to talk about how she helps equestrian students and their parents navigate the college application process. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!


  • Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Guest: Stella Propp is a 21 year old amateur rider from New York, NY and a student at Brown University. She trains with Brianne Goutal and co. Currently, she is juggling the pressures of the upcoming competition season and attending a prestigious university that has its demands.
  • Guest: Juliette Propp is 18 years old from New York, NY and previously competed in the junior jumpers, trained by Brianne Goutal and Co. She has stepped back from competing indefinitely to devote her time to her first year at Yale University. 
  • Guest: Clara Propp is a 16 year old junior rider from New York, NY. She trains with Brianne Goutal and co. She is preparing for her upcoming winter in Wellington while also managing the work during her junior year at Grace Church High School. 
  • Guest: Randi Heathman has spent twenty years working in higher education as an admission counselor, equestrian program director, and now as an educational consultant who specializes in helping prospective college equestrians find their right fit school. Randi is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Working one on one with students and their families, Randi helps walk them through the college search, application, and selection process with an eye on balancing a student’s academic and riding goals to truly give them a leg up on the process. You can find Randi in our upcoming Education issue of The Plaid Horse Magazine.
  • 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 & Giana Terranova Photography
  • Subscribe To: The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Sponsors: American Stalls, Purina Animal NutritionAmerica CryoLAURACEA, Wordley Martin Premium Equestrian Surfaces, BoneKare, Show Strides Book Series, With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard, Good Boy, Eddie and Silver Lining Herbs

This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.

Piper Klemm 
[00:01:08] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of the Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up today on episode 365, we are going to talk about college education and various ways through the process. First, we’re going to talk with a family of three equestrian sisters, Stella, Juliette and Clara Propp, who compete in the hunters and jumpers while also balancing school. Then we’re going to speak with education consultant Randi Heathman, talking about how she helps equestrian students and their parents navigate and balance a college application process. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:53] Stella Prop is a 21 year old amateur rider from New York, New York, and a student at Brown University. She trains with Brianne Goutal and company. Currently, she’s juggling the pressures of the upcoming competition season and attending a prestigious university. Juliette is 18 years old and previously competed in the junior jumpers. She has stepped back from competing indefinitely to devote her time to her first year at Yale University. Clara is a 16 year old junior rider. She is preparing for her upcoming winter in Wellington, while also managing the work during her junior year at Grace Church High School. Welcome to the plaidcast, Stella, Juliette and Clara. 

Propp Sisters [00:04:30] Hi. Thank you so much for having us. So happy to be here. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:33] So, Stella. I’ll start with you. Can you talk a little bit about starting to ride and kind of leading, leading your sisters in that. 

Stella Propp [00:04:40] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it sounds cliche, but it genuinely the love for horses and starting to ride genuinely began with a pony ride at a friend’s birthday when I was young. And I instantly sort of fell in love with horses and ponies and whatever. And then my parents, my mom in particular, signed me up for a riding lesson. I was just about, you know, four years old, I believe. So I really, really fell in love with it. And I think at the time, our parents weren’t expecting it to be anything more than just a few lessons here or there. But, as I began to love it so much, my sisters sort of followed as well, and it really turned into something huge, you know? And now we’re here and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So it just really started from that early love of animals and really connecting with, with the horse and I, I just fell in love with it. 

Piper Klemm [00:05:31] Juliette. Do you want to talk a little bit about how you got started? 

Juliette Propp [00:05:34] Yeah. So I would often go with Stella to the barn, even if I wasn’t horseback riding. I was pretty young. But pretty much as a family, we’re all very much animal lovers. So I would, you know, pet the horses, give them treats, help groom them. You know, from a really young age. So I think our parents, and, like Stella, just. We kind of thought it just made sense for me to, you know, follow in her footsteps. I think the thought process kind of was like spending time together is, like, super beneficial, especially for, like, kids, siblings from an early age. So like also I guess from the like, convenience standpoint, like both, both of us doing the same sport. And like the thing that’s taking up all our time is at least the same thing. It’s just much more convenient. And luckily, I guess it stuck. 

Piper Klemm [00:06:27] And then Clara, you basically grew up in a horse family by the time. By the time your sisters had gotten everything rolling. 

Clara Propp [00:06:36] Yeah. So now at this point, they were both riding and I guess it just made sense. Like Jules was saying, just logistically, I mean, it would be super hard for our parents to be going to horses with the other two if I didn’t ride. So, you know, they put me on a horse, and obviously they weren’t gonna force me to do it, but I did. Ended up. I ended up liking it just like the other girls. And. I don’t know. And just ever since we’ve all rode and it’s been super good, I think the bond that we’ve created through riding because we’re always together, you know, it’s such a time consuming sport. The, road trips, the flights, you know, and just being all together has really made us that much closer. And I’m so happy that my parents, you know, put me and Jules into it after Stella, because I just think it’s been so good for us. 

Piper Klemm [00:07:25] We’ve talked a lot on the podcast and then the Plaid horse about academics and and balancing that riding time and, and academia. There’s a lot of pressure that, you know, you need to ride all the time to ride at the highest level. And, you know, and academics is the same way in a lot of ways. But in my experience, many of the top riders are also top students. It’s the same skills and values and and intelligence is is required kind of on both sides of things. Stella can you talk a little bit about, now that you’re more towards the end of your college, you know, what it was like as a junior and some of the pressures, you know, maybe you saw people riding a lot more, going to school a lot less and, and kind of what that felt like at the time versus, you know, how how it’s come to fruition. 

Stella Propp [00:08:12] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in high school, I was always the girl who maybe wasn’t viewed as so normal by my peers because I was gone every single weekend. So I missed out on a lot of that. But then on the other hand, I was also viewed as maybe. A little weird or lesser then, because I would only be, for example, in Wellington on weekends, competing. Right? So you have me missing out on weekends in high school and time to bond with friends, but also me missing out on practicing, during the week in Wellington. So I sort of had to juggle the two and be sort of one of the few riders down there that was in regular school and was not enrolled in online school. So that was definitely difficult to keep up because I didn’t have as much time to practice. It was sort of fly in late Friday night and compete Saturday, Sunday and go back and do the same thing the next week. So it was definitely difficult to balance. But I think riding and, you know, missing school here and there really helped, with my organizational skills and balance. I would always need to manage my time, and get work done early, or meet with teachers early so that I could stay on top of my work and my studies. And I think that really carried through to school at Brown. I am still missing school. I’m still traveling. And I think that my professors are a lot more supportive now in school, in college. So it makes it a bit easier to keep up. But yeah, it’s it’s really all about, for me at least, time management, balancing your work and working ahead. And I think it’s really helped. And so, yeah, it’s been a struggle sometimes, but it’s also been rewarding and it’s really helped me stay on top of my work. So I’m appreciative for those skills. 

Piper Klemm [00:09:58] I also think, and maybe Juliette, you can speak to this. It’s it’s very I think especially in the junior divisions, it’s very easy to almost give too much credence to every single class. It’s very easy to to every single weekend, you know. And Wellington feel like it’s, it’s win or .. And I think kind of school and balance and other things give you a little bit of perspective that might help you handle the pressures of horse showing better. 

Juliette Propp [00:10:24] Yeah, definitely. I think same as Stella. It’s definitely been a hard time, you know, managing school and horseback riding. But I think same, same way I’ve learned, like, time management and organization. But yeah, for me, it was kind of a question of like, how much is my head in the game? And like, that contributed a lot to like, my decision making. You know, our parents, especially our mom, who’s more involved in like, horseback riding, never pressured us to, you know, choose one or the other. There were times where we were considering, you know, switching schools to something that was more accommodating of our schedule and missing school. But in the end, I’m really glad that I stuck with the school that I was at for high school. And even though that related to me having to make some horseback riding sacrifices, like not being able to come down on Thursday nights and practice Friday. So I would be coming down late Friday night, not getting to practice and then going right into the ring without having ridden for like a week or two. But like now, seeing where I am today, you know, like, I think the time that I put into my academics really paid off. And it was really nice for me to kind of put that into perspective and kind of reassess what are my priorities. And, you know, riding is always going to be something that is there for me if I want to come back to it. But right now, I’m just prioritizing school. I’m a freshman at Yale. And I wanted to put all my time and dedication into that because I don’t think if I was traveling and horseback riding, obviously this is just me, but if I was traveling, going away during the weekends, I would really be fully at college. Like there would always be a part of me that’s kind of disconnected from that. And especially to start off, I didn’t want that. So I’m really happy with my decision that I’ve stepped back. But of course, a part of me is always going to be a horseback rider. And, you know, who knows, maybe I’ll go back to it at some point. 

Piper Klemm [00:12:29] Juliette talk to us about making that decision and kind of what you weighed and, you know, and who you talk to, and you know how you handle that. I, I didn’t ride during college either. Same thing. I really focused on my academics and and these are all such individual decisions. It’s not you know, it’s not what I preach or promote to anyone else, but it was the right move for me. 

Juliette Propp [00:12:50] Yeah, I think it’s definitely it was a really hard decision, partly because I am like in a family of equestrians and I like grew up kind of looking up to my older sister as a role model, and to see her kind of balance out college and even like the hard parts of high school and horseback riding. And I kind of had a little bit of, like, self-doubt with myself, like wondering, you know, why I wasn’t able to kind of do the same so naturally. But I think it’s just different for everyone. And like during my junior year of high school and like first semester of senior year, I really did have to take a big step back, from horseback riding to kind of like focus on applying to college and just having, like, doing the best in school that I could. And then second semester of senior year, I kind of then started to prioritize horseback riding a little more. And it was honestly like the best, like for me, results wise and just like experience wise was really the best, like season that I have ever had. And the summer was great and I can just focus completely on it. But I think when for me personally, I had to juggle both. It’s just not the best for not only like my mental, you know, like not mental health, but kind of like my ambitions. And that really showed in my results. And I think when I had to juggle both, it just wasn’t really working out for me. So that was definitely a big factor in deciding that I wanted to stop riding. But don’t get me wrong. Like, I really do miss it, but I’m really happy with my decision right now. And I think just like seeing my sisters, you know, kind of still riding leaves me kind of still connected to the equestrian world, which is, like, still really nice. Like, I could go and, you know, do a lesson on one of their horses. So I think having that, like, kind of the fact that it’s still in my life in some capacity made it a lot easier to step back from the sport. 

Piper Klemm [00:14:53] I completely relate to, as you think you’re saying, because I’m very much all in and I struggle and I see all these people, you know, who are able to balance huge careers and riding every day. You know, and I’m, I’m just not good for them and I’m just not one of them. So, Clara, talk a little bit about kind of you’re coming up in the horse show world. Obviously, by the time you came along, your parents and your sisters had learned a lot about shows and, and how things worked and how the whole horse show system operated. You know, do you think that kind of led to success faster? And was that was that helpful? Or sometimes I think building solely to success is more helpful for some people. So it’s always interesting to see within everything else being the same. Like how success earlier on, I would say shaped you. 

Clara Propp [00:15:48] Yeah, I would definitely say that because my sisters were already riding and because my parents already knew a lot about the sport. It definitely like like had me mature earlier in the sport. I had Juliette braiding my hair. We knew the drill. And I definitely think that I got started at a younger age than Stella and Juliette. I think because I think me and Jules started riding around the same time. So I was the youngest when I started, so I’ve obviously had the most time, for my age, compared to the other two. So I think that has helped a lot, but also it just felt so natural to me when I just stepped into it already because they were always talking about it, you know, like Stella started showing before us. So I was just excited to kind of do what she was doing, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. And it just helped having role models and my two older sisters that. Were more mature and they just kind of led the way for me, and I’m super grateful to have them. And just touching on the academic and school, subjects they already kind of touched on. Time management. So I’m not going to get into that. But I just wanted to add that I think we’re so beyond lucky to be able to be in school and have people care for our horses and ride our horses when we’re not able to. And I think that’s not, something that everyone has. And I think we’re so lucky to have that. But obviously, ideally, I was the only one out of the girls to do the big equitation, and I think it requires a lot more like time that I just like, I feel like I don’t have and I feel like, ideally, I’d like to be at the barn more and be able to ride more and but I also at the same time, I don’t want to let my academics slip. And I see, like most of the people in the big equitation in online school. So like I say, I kind of feel at a disadvantage in both aspects. Like, I feel like I’m not riding as much as I would like to, but then I feel like sometimes when I’m in school, I’m dozing off about riding, you know, I’m thinking about it, and I’m not able at this point to put my focus into both 110%, which is obviously what I would want to do, but I just don’t think it’s possible. So hopefully as I get older, I’m able to kind of make a decision on what I want to focus on. But I just want to reiterate, like how I guess we’ve all talked about how grateful we are just to be able to do both. The fact that our parents supported the fact that our trainers supported, and the fact that our schools have always supported 100%. 

Piper Klemm [00:18:17] Clara, you have two sisters who have, you know, gotten into great schools and been very successful academically. You know, your have more going on starting earlier at the barn, I would say, like, how do you feel a lot of pressure from them? Do you just do you feel inspired to accomplish more because of them? You know, how how does all of that play out? I mean, I can imagine that it would be easy to to feel kind of a weight of their success a little bit.

Clara Propp [00:18:42] Yeah. Yeah, I definitely I’ve talked about it with them, I’ve talked about with my friends and I do feel a lot of pressure, but I still haven’t made the decision. I’m leaning towards that. I want to ride in school. So I think it’s a very different situation to both of them. And I, you know, went to visit some schools who had riding teams and just seeing the community and kind of what they do like just solidified kind of that. I want to do that. So I think although they are super successful in their academics, a little pressure is taken off of me because I think I want to focus on something different. So I guess I have pressure for in a different way. And I still do work really hard in school and everything, so. I mean, yeah, I just, I don’t know, I just think that I know that I want to do horses professionally. So I just think it’s a very different situation. Of course, I do feel pressure, and I’m also so proud of them. And I want to go to great schools like that. But I just don’t know if that’s in the cards for me in terms of what I want to do. 

Piper Klemm [00:19:44] Stella talk to us about your major and kind of choosing that and, and figuring out your, your class and school schedule and, you know, all the normal college student stuff and clubs and internships and all of that while, while. Still competing at the biggest shows? 

Stella Propp [00:20:02] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, going into school to to college, I, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, you know, in terms of my major. And one of the great things about Brown is that we can kind of do whatever we want our first year and sort of explore every class and every concentration and every, you know, topics. So, you know, now, at the point of when I’m having to declare my concentration or my major, I’ve decided to go, English, the English route. I love writing, I love reading, and so I find that so fascinating. And, you know, in terms of building a schedule. Yeah, it’s hard because when you have a concentration, you know, which is what my school calls a major, by the way, you need to take certain classes, and those classes might not always work with my writing schedule. So I’ve tried to the best of my abilities for my sort of second semester schedule, to make sure that I don’t have classes on Friday and that I have limited to no classes on Thursday so that I am able to travel to Florida, to Wellington, Wednesday nights and have that Thursday Friday practice day. But some of the bumps I’ve run into is that a certain class that I need to take, for requirement falls on, you know, every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. So, I’m still obviously navigating, you know, needing to take a class with how many classes can I miss to go down to Florida? And am I? Will my professors see me as slacking off? And what I’ve done and a piece of advice I would have is at the beginning of each semester, I meet with my professor and I sort of say, listen, here’s my rough, competition schedule. How does this sound? Is it okay if I miss these classes? Can I do makeup work? So I think that’s really helped me. And I’ve been super lucky thus far with professors and how understanding they are. But yeah, it is hard to design and cater a perfect schedule to what would work for my riding schedule. So I’m obviously still, you know, learning as I go. But I’ve been lucky with, again, supportive, professors and a supportive barn environment as well. And parents, of course. So I’ve been lucky with that, and I’m still just kind of learning as I go. 

Piper Klemm [00:22:07] Juliette, talk to us about what you’re interested in and and what you think you might be focusing on. I know you’re just getting started. 

Juliette Propp [00:22:13] Yeah. So I’m a prospective, women’s gender and sexuality and art history double major. So I also love to write. I, write for the school newspaper and the comedy magazine. I kind of, when I got to school, you know, in high school, I was so used to having, like, way less time than everyone else for extracurriculars and things like that. So, like, something about me is like, I like to stay busy. So when I got to college and I didn’t have all that time that I was using it for horseback riding, I just had a lot of free time. And so I kind of go headfirst into extracurriculars and things. And this is, I guess first year of college is all about, like, exploring yourself in your interests. So I’ve really just been interested in, like, trying new things, seeing what sticks. And it’s been really interesting to kind of find new passions because I was always kind of to my friends in high school known as, like, the horseback rider, so trying to find that kind of new identifier, not that that’s the only thing that defines me, but like, that was just a huge part of my life. And like, transitioning from, like, horseback riding to not, it’s been really it’s been scary, but it’s been really enlightening. I’d say, like I’m learning a lot more about myself academically, socially, things like that. But yeah, school has been an absolute blast for me. I’m really happy with where I am. And, you know, hope to, maybe ride a little bit this summer, but I’m also looking, you know, for an internship. Because I feel like I kind of have to be on par with everyone else, like my peers. And that’s kind of what everyone’s been doing. So that’s kind of what I’m planning to do. But, yeah, I, I’m been loving school. My classes are so great. And. Yeah. 

Stella Propp [00:24:10] One more thing to add just about internships is that it’s hard to find, you know, you know, highly regarded internship when you do have a competition schedule in the summer. So, for me, in the past, I’ve done a lot of, like, marketing and PR and social media, which has been, you know, mainly virtual. But for me, now being an English concentrator, I’m looking for something more serious and more up that alley. So that’s something I’m also kind of working on for the summer to see. Can I find something that caters to sort of what I need to do if I want to pursue this major, and can I find one that matches or that accommodates my, you know, summer show schedule when I’m constantly on the road? 

Piper Klemm [00:24:55] And that’s a discussion we have with interns every summer. Some of them come in and they show a lot, and I’m like, are you really going to be able to balance it. 

Stella Propp [00:25:05] It’s Really hard. 

Piper Klemm [00:25:05] With this showing, you know, and having that realistic conversation? 

Stella Propp [00:25:10] Yeah, absolutely. It’s hard, but it’s sort of something that I think a lot of riders deal with. And I’m lucky to have a friend that’s older than me at school who is kind of showing me the ropes with regards to that. 

Piper Klemm [00:25:22] Clara, do you want to talk about what’s interesting to you in school and then what you’re focusing your time on as much as you can during the week? 

Clara Propp [00:25:29] Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t say I have any particular interest in school. Jules kind of inspired me to try out journalism last year, and I didn’t think it was my passion. So I am not taking it this year, but I am in all intensive science classes, and I have been all three years, and science really does interest me. But I’m just not sure what I want to do in college, obviously, but I don’t know. And then during the week, I just honestly try to get as much work done as possible, because during the weekends we usually ride, especially during indoor season, it was just, so busy and so crazy. And so I just try to use all of my time, afterschool as wisely as possible. Doing work right when I get home to right when I go to bed, just to free up my weekend. So I’m not having to, like I was saying before, like having to worry about school when I’m riding and riding when I’m doing school isn’t the best. It doesn’t have the best success rate for outcomes. So I just try to get all my work done. So on the weekends, I can fully put my focus into the horses and just have no school on my mind and really just be going over my plans for the show. 

Piper Klemm [00:26:41] Clara, can you talk a little bit what it’s like with your with your older sisters and what traveling with them and what kind of having that group has, has meant to you and that it kind of sounds like, you know, in a way you’re going to be looking for that same group and in college and in college riding. To replace. 

Clara Propp [00:26:59] I think that. It’s like they’ve let me in on a sense of community. In the horse world again, like we were saying, them starting before me and me. Kind of just like having to jump right in with them already there. It’s given me a very good sense of community in regards to traveling. Just logistically, it’s so helpful because, obviously I’m 16. I can fly a little now, but I would want my sisters to be there. It’s much better. So, tomorrow I’m actually getting on a flight going to Wellington. And so it was like supposed to on Friday. And she was like, well, let me come Thursday. And I was like, great. And so now we’re flying together and it’s just so fun. Like, this is just like, how many people can say they get to do this, you know, go on the weekends and ride with their sisters while one is in college and one is in high school. Like, it’s just such a special experience, that not a lot of people get to have. So I’m very, very lucky. And I just think, as I was saying before, the amount of time we get to spend together, even just sitting at the ring, getting lunch at the show, going out to dinner in Wellington, just being all together all the time, has just been so great. And of course, it’s sad that they left for college. Jules just left this year, so it’s my first year kind of being on my own here at home. Which has been sad. But then again, we always had this thing that brings us together, which is just really awesome. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:24] Juliette, can you talk a little bit about kind of. I have all three of you having the same trainer. You know, I, I’m sure that you all are all different in your own ways and, like, you know, kind of some of the pros and cons for that. I can see so many ways that it’s amazing. And maybe it’s also hard on a lot of ways too. 

Juliette Propp [00:28:42] Yeah, I think definitely. The pro is just like, it brings us so close. Like it sounds cheesy when I say it, but like, my sisters really are my closest friends. And I think that wouldn’t be the case if we hadn’t grown up riding alongside of each other and at the same barn. Even, you know, even though we all horseback rode, like in a scenario where we were at different barns, like we would have way less time together. So a pro is definitely that, you know, we get to spend so much time together. And also I guess that like, we all kind of are each other’s cheerleaders and we kind of can cheer each other on and help each other out. And I think that wouldn’t be the case if we were all riding at different barns, you know, separated even just by, like, riding at a barn that’s, you know, down the road from each other like that just takes away so much of the quality time that we do spend together. I think maybe the downside, is that, you know, each of us, you know, when all three of us were riding like, each of our, like, respective divisions where, you know, maybe at overlapping times occasionally and, you know, like, even just schooling and getting ready and then actually going in the ring, it’s takes a lot of time. It’s a really lengthy process, from start to finish on like a show day. So I think, you know, with of course, like we have, you know, Brianne as our main trainer. And then we had, you know, some other people helping her out, and that was definitely a little bit of a struggle for Brianne. To kind of get from one, one place to the next, one ring to the next, you know, one sister to the next. So I think a little bit of, like, competition for time, was probably the biggest stressor, on the three of us riding together. It was also hard just because, you know, like, warming up, we would want, you know, our trainer to be there. But sometimes she would be at the ring with Stella and I would have to warm up alone or, like, a course, walk, doing a course walk alone or something like that. But other than that, it’s just been all around like a really great experience getting to also learn not only from our trainer, but from each other. And, you know, having group lessons with your sisters, it just doesn’t really get much better than that. 

Clara Propp [00:31:06] And I just wanted to add one more thing. Like it’s just kind of so cool. Like it’s never like I talked to my friends about it and they just don’t have the same experience. But we get to actually like, give each other tips and like just comment about each other’s riding and have built in friends already in the riding world. And I realize you asked a question about or mentioned teams in college that I didn’t really touch on, but I think I the reason I want to join a team so bad is because I’ve had my own team, which has been my sisters, my whole life, and I just want now I am not going to have them anymore when I’m in college. So I just kind of want to go into something where I have like a similar team experience. So that I think that contributes to the reason I want to do it, but it’s just been so good and so supportive, and there’s so many times where I’m so upset about a round and they’re there to help me, or I forgot my spurs at the barn and they go grab it. For me, it’s just very. It’s a very nice thing. 

Piper Klemm [00:32:05] Stella, starting with you, can all three of you tell us what some of your goals are for this next year? What you’re really looking forward to? 

Stella Propp [00:32:12] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, along with the goal of just wanting to continue to, you know, properly balance my studies, my social life, everything with riding in the competition season. Yeah, I really I want to, you know, take, take my, you know, amateur jumper career to a new level. I think I’ve been staying at sort of like the meter 30 meter 35 for the past year and a half, two years now, just because being away at school, coming back and it’s hard to just immediately start jumping the 140 to 145 without being a little scared. So I think I definitely want to try and work with that. And just kind of move up if possible and feel more comfortable coming back and just bam, starting at that height. And I funny enough, you know, I never did the big eq as a junior, but I have recently started, you know, trying horses and just kind of brainstorming around the idea of doing the adult equitation, which is obviously lower stakes, but it’s something that I’ve kind of always wanted to do, and that I want to try. So I think definitely, you know, moving up in the jumper divisions, continuing my hunter success and, you know, improving there and then possibly doing the adult education. It would be cool to say that I’m in all three rings for once, like Clara has been, that’s very cool to me. So I think those are my main goals. And you know, obviously just improving always and keep with it. 

Piper Klemm [00:33:39] Clara, you want to talk about your riding goals this year? 

Clara Propp [00:33:42] Yeah. So I have decided to take a step back from the hunters, which is obviously a little heartbreaking, but I just feel like I’m so ready to move on. I just felt like just putting my focus into the other two rings would be more beneficial for my riding, and I’m really hoping to start the U25 this season, and I think that’s what the plan is. And then of course, just try to get more consistent in the big eq because last year was actually my first year, and it honestly went really well. But I just want to keep improving on that because I feel like the hunters was something that I had mastered. And it I couldn’t say the same for the other two. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I felt like in order to reach my goals and get where I wanted to go, I had to take a step back from something just because it was just so much on my plate. So yeah, I’m just very excited for the season to see what I can accomplish and see what I can learn. And yeah, I’m excited. 

Juliette Propp [00:34:39] And Clara can’t brag about herself, but I think I can brag for her to say that, like, you know, where she kind of is like, was with the hunters is, like, as good as it can get. Like, we’d just like to watch her. We we’ve been so proud of her. And, like, you know, with her horse arabesque, she took this horse from, like, being a young, kind of inexperienced horse to, like, winning all these national titles, which has just been such a gift to get to witness, and like. When you kind of reach kind of the Hunter highlights and like the top of your career, you kind of just want to end on a good note, which I totally understand. And like, I think that’s what Clara’s doing. And now she’s going to something where she does have more room for improvement and just can really learn a lot. 

Piper Klemm [00:35:25] Is there anything else any of the three of you want to add? 

Juliette Propp [00:35:29] I mean, goal wise, I hope this summer that maybe I can have some time to just get around recreationally, take a horse on a trail or something like that. I just don’t think really competing is in the cards for me anymore, which I’m fine with. But I definitely am not ready to cut horses out of my life entirely. So I guess, you know, I haven’t ridden since late June, so this is probably the longest I’ve gone without horseback riding, so it’s definitely, it’s definitely something that I have in the back of my mind. It’s just like getting to ride. But I’m excited. Also, about a summer without horseback riding to, like, see all the other possibilities, things that I was never able to do. I’m planning to study abroad this summer, which I was never able to do. You know, get an in-person internship, which I was never able to do, because we would always be riding in Long Island during the summer. So I plan to stay in the summer, in the city this summer and kind of be going into an office every day, which is the goal for me, as opposed to, summer after my junior year of high school where I had, like a remote internship where I was just writing for a magazine. But I really want to just immerse myself more in, like, the professional landscape, and this is an exciting opportunity to do so. 

Stella Propp [00:36:47] Yeah. And I think one thing I just wanted to add more generally, because I think we are wrapping up, is that we really are just so, so, so grateful to have the opportunities that we have. We realize that it is a tremendous privilege to be able to have, you know, our horses and ride as a trio of three and just and travel and, and all the things that we get to do to ride with Brianne. And so to our parents and our mom especially, we are just so, so lucky and fortunate that she just dedicates so much of her time to our happiness and making sure that we are sort of following our passions, and we are feeling good about where we are with our riding. So, you know, we just wouldn’t be anywhere without, you know, our parents, our mom really supporting our sort of every move in our, our path on this journey. And it’s yeah, I just I always think back and at the end of the day, just always feel so fortunate that we can do what we love. So that’s just it’s wonderful. And yeah, we really are very lucky. 

Clara Propp [00:37:47] Yeah. And then I was going to say something kind of along the lines of Stella, but I feel like people might think just like, oh, they’re sitting here talking about all of this, like talking about all these horses, talking about how they can compete in all three rings. And I, I think people miss that. We realize that not everyone has those opportunities and that we are so thankful to have those opportunities and have the best grooms ever and the best trainers ever, the best parents ever, who really just contribute to our success and make it as easy as possible for us to be as successful as possible. And I just think we all talk about how we’re so grateful every single day. A day doesn’t go by where we don’t think about just how lucky we are. And we totally realize that, you know, this is just not something that everyone could do. And, I mean, I’m just yeah, I’m just like, beyond happy and lucky and grateful and feel all the things about it because I don’t know what I would do without riding in my life. And I feel like it’s really something that grounds me. And whenever I’m feeling down, like I just always have something to look forward to. And I love my horses so much. And yeah, just beyond blessed that our parents have allowed us to pursue this at the level we do. 

Piper Klemm [00:39:40] Randi Heathman has spent 20 years working in higher education as an admission counselor, equestrian program director and now is an educational consultant who specializes in helping prospective college equestrians find their right school. Randi is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, the IECA, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Working one on one with students and their families, Randi helps them walk through the college search, application and selection process with an eye on balancing a student’s academic and riding goals to truly give them a leg up on the process. You can find Randi in the education issue December/January of the Plaid Horse magazine. Welcome to the plaidcast, Randi. 

Randi Heathman [00:41:49] Thank you so much for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:41:51] College admission seems like it’s own job at this point. There are so many acronyms on so many schools and types, and we have more opportunity than ever, which means it’s more confusing. And where do we even get started when we’re looking at colleges, what do we need to know? How do we take a deep breath? 

Randi Heathman [00:42:11] But first, take that deep breath. I think that is that is the best piece of advice I have for everyone, because I think and the conversation that I often have with parents is. There is so much information out there that you’re going to be sorting through. You’re going to be assaulted by it. You’re going to stand at horse shows on the rail and hear the other moms talking, and everyone sounds like an expert. And that’s where you take a breath and you sit down and and it’s such a personal journey for every student. And I think every parent out there who has more than one child knows your children are never alike. You can your older child can be the complete opposite of your middle child, of your younger child. And. Understanding that there is a fit out there for everyone. And that the the way to get that, the way to determine that is to really kind of determine your priorities before you even start. So if you’re a family on a really strict budget, setting the budgetary parameters, if there’s a specific academic program, specific athletic program, I’m guessing everyone here is looking for a college riding program. So what type of college riding program? And then having a very real talk, whether with the school counselor, with an educational consultant, or just having the talk as a family about what the student’s academic capabilities are, because some schools cater to the really, really, academically elite students and some schools don’t. And so I like to talk about not just how to find colleges, but how to get admitted to colleges. And I think, having some academic realism is, is a good way to start on that side of the equation. 

Piper Klemm [00:44:06] These are a lot of realistic conversations that are, you know, some are hard to have. And how much do you want to focus on the next step and how much you want to focus at school? And, you know, as, as you said, some schools are going to let you go and ride and show whether it’s part of the team or whether it’s independently. And then some schools, or majors or, you know, tracks simply aren’t. 

Randi Heathman [00:44:28] Yeah. It’s. And I think that’s another honest conversation, whether that’s between parents and students or whether, you know, trainers are part of that conversation, even because there is a distinct difference in how you spend your academic time as a college student between being, biochemistry major, being on a pre-medical, a pre veterinary track, being in engineering or architecture. Then there is, if you are going to be an English major, a psychology major, even if you’re going to be an art student, you know, every track has its own requirements for students both in and out of the classroom. And it’s going to be a completely different balancing act than the student has in high school. And I’ll talk with a lot of students, and particularly when we’re talking about a student riding in some capacity doesn’t have to be a team, just riding in some capacity as an undergraduate student. They have to understand that because their academic requirements and schedule is going to change, that their riding schedule is going to have to change in response to that. And so they may end up riding less than they ride in high school while they’re trying to balance everything out. Because unfortunately, there’s only 24 hours in a day and there’s only seven days in a week. 

Piper Klemm [00:45:52] College is a time for a lot of schools and programs to learn skills that are, you know, equestrian skills, barn skills management, riding that are that are not riding. I think that’s an adjustment for a lot of, young people, too, who, you know, evaluate, who have spent a lot of time evaluating their value on maybe the show ring success. You know, we had someone on from the University of Vermont program where where all the students co-op run the barn together and learn all those skills, but at very different metrics than, than you might have been evaluating yourself upon in high school. 

Randi Heathman [00:46:25] Yeah, definitely. Definitely. But at the same time, I think there’s tremendous value in it. We know as horse people that there’s tremendous value in acquiring those skills. But also I invite students, regardless of what career field they’re interested in and what they want to go into. To think of those times as resume building. And so when I talk with students, and typically it’s the club equestrian teams at the college level where you find the most student engagement because they are student run, student driven, student centric organizations. And I will have families who will say, well, we don’t want that experience. We’re looking for something in a varsity experience, and the varsity experiences can be valuable. And there’s a lot of student responsibility in those programs as well. And it can be learning the horse care and the horsemanship. But what employers are going to ask students when they’re graduating from college, when they’re going out with their resumes and doing those initial job interviews is, you know, tell me about a time that you had to work with a group of students and you disagreed, or tell me about a time when you had to complete a task and everything was going wrong. They don’t need to see a student’s transcript because they can get that. They can find out from the institution what the student’s GPA was, what classes they took. If the student had to take an entrance exam to get into a graduate program, they’re going to have all of that information. So what they want to know is they’re asking students these questions is how did you develop soft skills? What what did you learn in college outside of the English one on one or the psychology one on one class that you took that anybody who went to college could have taken. 

Piper Klemm [00:48:15] I think working in these groups and working on a team, is very different from how so many young riders approach their riding career. I think that’s something I don’t always see the conversation happening realistically between students and parents of of if a team for their riding career is is even a good fit for them. 

Randi Heathman [00:48:40] Yeah. And I think early exploration can can help with some of that. And we know a lot of, you know, even the IEA teams that that students are exposed to in middle and high school have some of these responsibilities. And so that can be an early introduction if a student is participating in that. But. Beyond that, these colleges often run summer programs, and so that can be a chance for a student, maybe a ninth grader, a 10th grader who is considering what their writing options in college will be to go and live on a campus for 3 to 5 days and sleep in the dorms and, you know, eat the dining hall food, but also find out what the expectations of these programs are and of the directors and coaches at these schools. Is it that you’re going to groom the horse from ears to hooves every day, and, you know, are the students responsible for the laundry and cleaning the track and all of these things? I mean, spoiler alert, in a college program, that pretty much is the expectation for every single student who’s participating. And so test drive that and find out where a student’s gaps in knowledge gaps and experience are, and also really review the experience after it’s happened and say, is that what you want for college or are you looking for something else? 

Piper Klemm [00:50:07] And then let’s talk about post-college opportunities. I think there’s. There’s so many different ways to talk about this. One of the things that impressed me on the plaidcast when we did the NCAA episodes is how many of the students were able to leverage their four years into an advanced degree also, or get a good head start on on graduate school while still in college? These larger universities with more programs offer more options, on that side of things, more than than the liberal arts colleges, which have so many amazing things to offer. Again, it’s knowing yourself, knowing what your goals are, knowing what you want to figure out and what the next steps are making. 

Randi Heathman [00:50:50] Yeah, and that’s an area I like. I like to think, and I definitely hope that what I’m seeing and, and I’m reading about colleges is that they are building in more conversations and protections for students starting to think about, oh, we’ve got these students attending our schools now and they’re going to want to get jobs. And so how do we build in career development in from the first year? I think in the past colleges were very, very guilty of, oh, it’s your senior year, here’s the career office or here’s a career fair. We’ll help you make your resume. And, you know, on you go. And now you’re starting to see colleges even from first semester, having students. Okay, let’s start to build your LinkedIn profile, and let’s get you out there and, you know, yeah, start to think about those things and have those conversations and point them in the direction of their strengths and, and kind of provide a step by step path to. Yeah, depending on what you’re thinking of doing. Do you need a master’s degree? Will you be going to professional school. And if so, what are the steps that you take to get there? Yeah. Can you is there a program built in with a four plus one. So it’s four years of undergraduate plus one year for a master’s for an MBA. And and how can you do that so that you get the most educational value for it, for your educational dollar? 

Piper Klemm [00:52:16] Talk to us a little bit about what some of these teams look like and practices. And, you know, if you’re if you’re on one of these large teams, are you showing and how much of your life is, is devoted to the team? 

Randi Heathman [00:52:30] I think the shortest answer to that question is that it varies. And so if we kind of start at the top and we say NCAA Division one, one of the things that we know is you’re looking at at the very large schools with dual discipline teams, it’s a very large roster, and they need to show anywhere from from six to a dozen students in any given competitions you have, you have a lot of students who will, quote unquote, sit the bench, for various competitions, but will have still requirements inside the program. NCAA D1 athletes are drug tested frequently. They have academic, requirements that they have to meet. You know, there’s there’s all of these things that are built into being an NCAA, a NCAA Division one athlete. And so there’s a lot going on at that, within that structure. Essentially, the student is owned by the program. Right. And as you kind of work your way down so you’ll get to your NCAA Division three teams, which tend to be single discipline, they tend to be at smaller, schools. They tend to be in some ways similar in their requirements in their structure to, an Intercollegiate horse show association. And I say varsity team in that still have academic requirements to meet, still have the requirements of a varsity athlete who is on a particular school campus, obviously training both in the saddle, out of the saddle. All of those requirements set by the coach, set by the program, I would say riders in those programs. So both the D1 and also in the D3 and the IHSA varsity, they’ll ride anywhere from from 3 to 5 days per week. I do want to put an asterisk on that because I think the riders who are sitting the bench are not riding as much. They may even not be riding at all if there are not horses available. So I think as people are reviewing programs and they’re learning about them, these are important questions to ask when you’re interacting with coaches and personnel. You know, if a student is not actively competing, how are their requirements different? And then I think when you look at maybe those IHSA club programs, it’s a little dependent on how active the club is. Where they ride a barn could be ten minutes from campus, it could be an hour from campus. And so how how they traverse that distance, are they going in student automobiles? Is there a shuttle? You know, that’s going to influence how often they’re able to get to the barn, how often they’re able to engage. So do they do more on campus if the barn is farther away? What are those requirements? Are they fundraising? Is there, student activities, money that’s granted to them to help support their activities? So, you know, the club teams may ride anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week. And and that really varies based on region of the country and, and based on the individual teams. So it’s really up to families to do their research when they’re looking at schools and ask questions of program coaches of personnel and, and really dig in and find out. Because I will tell you from experience, no two programs run exactly the same way. 

Piper Klemm [00:56:00] We have so many young riders who who want to be vets are going to the veterinary track. Can you talk about that specifically and and what’s kind of involved there? 

Randi Heathman [00:56:09] Yes. And it starts in high school. I think that’s important to note. So in a lot of ways, there is not a tremendous difference between preparing to go to vet school versus preparing to go into medical school. So students need to be very strong in the hard sciences and in math. So in high school, if your school offers the track going through at least AP biology, you know, if you can do, chemistry and physics as well, whether you do them at the AP level. Again, that’s a little bit up to a student’s academic abilities and what their school offers. They also really need to get through calculus. By the time that they graduate high school. If your school only offers pre-calculus, I actually just had this with a client this year that the highest we could get her coming out of high school was to go through pre-calculus, and she does want to go on a pre-vet track. You know, schools can make leeway for that because obviously you’re limited by what your high school is able to offer you. So that is taken into consideration when you get to your undergraduate college. Again, you’re going to be on a very heavy, math and science track. And for pre-vet schools typically like. To see that students also go into at least animal science courses. Whether you do animal science as your ultimate major, whether you do it as a minor. There are some great liberal arts colleges that don’t have animal science as a major, but offer some courses for the students to take to help supplement as they’re getting ready to apply to vet school. So exposure to animal science is huge. The math and science track is huge. And then the other component, because it’s actually harder to get into vet school in some ways because, there are fewer vet schools, although we are opening at least two new ones in the U.S. here in the next couple of years, which is very exciting. Because there’s less vet schools and there are more applicants trying to get into fewer spots. The other key component is animal handling experience. I think horse kids are uniquely positioned because they have a lot of, large animal handling experience and they have access to large animals. And so that’s another thing where if a student can learn some horsemanship skills from their stable manager, from their trainer, in starting in high school, you know, going through college, learning how to do a hoof wrap, learning how to perfectly do standing wraps, how to treat basic wounds. You know, all all of that stuff that that a lot of our really good, stable managers have to deal with on a daily basis. Having an understanding of nutrition, there’s a lot of those skills that students can acquire and just get observation and experience in as a way to boost their, their vet school resumes and then any other experiences. A lot of students will volunteer at a humane society or an animal rescue. They will work at a vet clinic. A lot of it’s cleaning cages, but you get to do some observation. There are some pre-vet camps that different schools offer in the summer. So just exposure, exposure, exposure I think is the other really key component for a student who wants to be on that track. 

Piper Klemm [00:59:36] And where can people find you if they have more questions? 

Randi Heathman [00:59:39]  I am on Instagram as @EQUCollegeAdvisor, @EquCollegeAdvisor on Facebook just search for Equestrian College Advisor. And my website is, this will surprise no one,   

Piper Klemm [01:01:36] 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 medias. 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!