Fresh off of her first 2* Grand Prix win, Coco Fath, accomplished junior rider turned rising star in the International ring, sat down to chat with us all about her win and how her time in the equitation ring has helped lead her to success in the jumper ring today! Now training with gold medalist of literally EVERYTHING, Rodrigo Pessoa of Amethyst Equestrian, she definitely has chosen to surround herself with the best to teach her the ropes! Check out our interview below!
Congrats on your 2* Grand Prix win with Exotic Sitte, aka Scotty! How did it feel?
“It was so exciting! The last big jumper win of mine that I really got that excited about was Devon. Scotty and I had a bit of rough beginning, because of me not him, and it was exciting to finally have the win under our belt to signify that everything came together!”
You were last in the jump-off, what were you thinking about heading in?
“My first thought was the I had been first in the jump-off in 1.30 class, so I was like okay now that I’m last I can see the other riders go, I was a little nervous because the riders before me were fast, but I knew it was a privilege going last and thought I’m going to give it the east shot that I can!”
You are now heavily competing in the International Classes! How has the transition been?
“It’s such a different level of competition. I remember a couple of years ago at WEF I had won the high junior classic one week and then the next week went to do the U25 it was such a difference. Then taking that to an international level, the level of riding is so much higher, and I just really recognized the level of improvement I was going to need to make to really win at the higher level. But because of that, it’s obviously so gratifying to win at an international level!”
Okay, so we are now officially entering Equitation Finals season, you have quite a lot of experience in that field as well! What was your most memorable win?
“My most memorable big eq win was the George Morris Equitation of Excellence class at WEF. It was really exciting because two years before he had won that class with Lucy Deslauriers, and the next year I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, so it was nice to come back to that class and win! Not having a trainer was always something I was really worried about because I rely heavily on whoever is training me and without them sometimes feel unprepared, so that added element was something I was nervous about, but I was able to overcome my fear of that and it was really exciting for me and gave me confidence for the future! And also just Puff himself, aka Class Action, was just the most incredible horse!”
What do you miss about the equitation?
“What I loved about the equitation was the community aspect of having everyone of similar ages, which I don’t really find now that I’m an amateur and everyone’s ages are very spread out, but we were all a big group of friends and really cheering for each other! Especially at Beacon Hill, there was really a ton of support from both the trainers and the kids! It felt like a really big family! And I miss Puff!”
What don’t you miss about the equitation?
“I think there’s a lot of stress around the idea that you really need to win a final. That’s really the end goal for everyone and they love to say the people who have won these finals have gone on to do great things, so it kind of leaves this feeling that if you don’t win one, you’re not going to go and do great things past the equitation. For me, I didn’t love that, because at the end of the day it’s a judged competition, it’s subjective, not objective so that emphasis I didn’t particularly like!”
If you could go back and tell your 15-year-old self one thing regarding equation, what would it be?
“Winning a final isn’t everything! There’s life after equitation! Yes, it’s a big deal and it’s an important part of the American style of riding, but it’s not everything and it’s not going to dictate how you do in the future. Also, enjoy the friendships! Equitation is like high school, it does end, so appreciate the people who helped you get there!”
“Winning a final isn’t everything! There’s life after equitation! Yes, it’s a big deal and it’s an important part of the American style of riding, but it’s not everything and it’s not going to dictate how you do in the future.”
What has been the most valuable thing you have taken from the equitation ring to help you transition into competing at the international level?
“I think the obvious one is position! Not that my position is that great, but I’ve seen worse! Especially with regards to body control. I’m a big fan of people who look nice when they’re riding because one, it looks nice, but two It’s better for the horses if you’re not all over their body! Also, the difficult tracks that are at a slower pace you don’t really experience in the jumpers, so the equitation really let me slow things down and think, which I definitely bring into the jumpers when thinking about insider turns and bending lines.”
What piece of advice to you offer any junior heading into Equitation finals season for their first time? Or their last time?
“For your first time, go out there an have a good time! Focus on long term goals like going in there and having a solid round rather than going in and trying to be perfect!n Also, watch as much as you can, after your round, stay after to watch the riders who are at a higher level or a little older. Especially in the tests, definitely something to watch!
For someone going for their last time, stop stressing so much! I was more nervous than anything else for my last junior year at finals because I was thinking “this is it, this is my last chance”, but that’s honestly the wrong way to think of it because there’s really so much more after the equitation! So what if you don’t place top 10 or place at all, you still have so many other things! Life goes on. Also, you always have two more extra years to go and do USET finals!”
“So what if you don’t place top 10 or place at all, you still have so many other things! Life goes on.” – Coco Fath