At just 19 years old, the U.S.A.’s Lucy Deslauriers has already shown that she can compete and win among the best at top international classes from Spruce Meadows, Canada to Wellington, Florida. Last fall, Lucy proved she has international team chops as well, jumping two clear rounds, one with a single time fault, at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, aboard her longtime partner (and BFF), the 14-year-old Belgian gelding Hester.
Last week, Lucy was selected as the traveling reserve rider for the 2019 Pan American Games, taking place next month in Lima, Peru (July 26 – August 11). We caught up with the PonyApp U25 ambassador to learn more.
Congratulations on making the team! When did you hear and what was your reaction when you found out you’d been named as the U.S. traveling reserve?
Lucy Deslauriers: Thank you! I initially got the call a few days ago. I am excited to be there and support my teammates, and to experience a major championship for the first time for the U.S.
For me, having the opportunity to represent your country on the international stage—whether it be in a five-star Nations Cup or the [Longines FEI] Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, or now, a championship—is the ultimate. There’s something really special about riding for an entity greater than just yourself. You definitely feel that when you walk into the ring, it’s so special.
Alex Granato (Carlchen W), Eve Jobs (Venue d’Fees des Hazalles), Beezie Madden (multiple horses), and McLain Ward (Contagious) have been named to the team as well. How much do your fellow riders provide feedback and help each other on the ground in a situation like this?
LD: Well I’ve never been go a championship before, but based on other team experiences I think you can always learn from the people around you, whether on your team or those you’re competing against. In Peru, McLain [Ward] will be on the team, and he has been an integral part of my personal growth in the sport, so I will definitely learn a lot from him being there. I’m also very lucky that my dad [Canadian show jumper and FEI World Cup™ Finals winner Mario Deslauriers] will be competing there, so that’s, unquestionably, another huge asset that I can use. Eve [Jobs] is also one of my very close friends, so it will be a lot of fun to be there with her, and to learn from her as we embark on this new experience [together].
Most riders say that representing their country in an Olympic Games is the ultimate goal—is that your dream as well?
LD: That is unquestionably a goal of mine, be it in the near future or a little further down the line. But being able to experience a championship [like the PanAm Games]—whether it just be cheering for my teammates and feeling the camaraderie of being at a championship, or hopefully, eventually, getting to compete at one of these big events—I think there is something very unique about that experience. I can’t wait to see what it’s like.
You and Hester have such an incredible relationship and I know you’re very hands-on with his care whenever possible. Do you think that makes a difference when you’re asking him to go the extra mile for you in the ring?
LD: We know that this sport has a lot to do with the bond between you and your horse. Every time that Hester and I have stepped into a new challenge, on a Nations Cup team or at a big five-star, etc., having six-plus years with him under my belt just makes all of these transitions so much easier. Obviously, he’s special to me, but it feels really cool that we’ve been able to do these things and experience some of the most prestigious events in the world for our sport together.I think that all the little things add up as far as being hands-on with your horses, and that those moments carry over and really make a difference. It makes me feel more confident when I walk into the ring and we’re embarking on something new. I’d also like to believe that it makes Hester feel more comfortable, too—when I maybe ask him to jump from a sketchy distance or make an inside turn—that he knows I’m right there with him.
There’s just about a month left before the PanAm Games. How are you keeping Hester in top form?
LD: We’ve been in Calgary [at Spruce Meadows] for the past two weeks, and we were in Langley [at Thunderbird] before that, so Hester is definitely jumping fit right now. He has a week off [this week] and then the plan is to do the next two weeks of Spruce Meadows. Then we’ll go home, regroup, and head to Peru. He’ll stay jumping; he’s fit and he’s happy, so hopefully, it’s a good game plan!
You started competing Hester in the Low-Junior jumpers. If someone told you then that someday, the two of you would not only be jumping five-stars, but going to the Pan American Games together, what would you have said?
LD: I was 12 or 13 when I started riding [Hester], so I probably would have laughed—I don’t know what I would have done! It definitely feels surreal that I’m able to say that I started with him when I was that young, and when he was that young, at [that] level. It’s pretty crazy. I feel so lucky that he has turned into this horse for me.
Don't miss the chance to follow along with Lucy and Hester as they prepare for the PanAms in Lima, Peru! Head over to PonyApp to see all of the behind-the-scenes action and support two of our favorites as they continue this amazing journey together!