It was a thrill for Lucy Deslauriers to come home clean on Saturday, March 4, 2017 in her biggest victory yet this winter season. The 17-year-old rider was the youngest competitor in the $100,000 Suncast Jumper Classic during CSIO4* Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival, making her daring ride in the jumpoff all the more impressive, and indicative of her obvious talent.
Deslauriers comes from good stock. Her father Mario Deslauriers also found success when he was her age, and these days, he paces anxiously near the ingate and whistles his encouragement when Lucy is in the arena. We caught up with the well-spoken young rider to find out more about her top horse Hester, her thoughts on coming up through the equitation ranks, and much more. Read on:
Noelle Floyd.com: Since you began riding Hester after your father in 2013 you’ve had incredible success as a pairing. How did your family come to find Hester?
Lucy Deslauriers: My father is always looking for special horses, particularly young ones, and Hester caught his eye after doing well in 2012 as a 7-year-old in Belgium. My family was over in Europe trying horses and we were able to look at him, but not try him, as he had a 7-year-old championship coming up. A month or two later my father went back to Belgium to try him, and that is when we purchased him. Hester’s record, with frequent clear rounds, proved his capability and that definitely had a big impact on our decision. He was initially a young prospect for my father but after the winter season in Wellington (2013) I needed a horse to move up to the Low Juniors on, so we gave it a try. I’ve been riding him ever since.
NF: Your father still holds the record as the youngest rider in history to win the FEI World Cup Final. Is it safe to assume your goals also reach towards a World Cup Final win?
LD: Definitely. First I have to be old enough to compete in World Cup qualifying classes, but as of January 1st that was taken care of. It might be an ambitious goal but with Hester and my father’s guidance, why not dream big?
NF: You’ve said before that school is extremely important to you. You’re currently balancing school and your competitive career. From your own personal experience, what advice to you have for fellow young riders who find it difficult to manage both?
LD: I find that being able to compartmentalize school work and riding has been very important in allowing me to manage both at the same time. It’s easy to get behind on school work when you’re wrapped up in a busy riding schedule so getting work done ahead of time, finding times to work in between showing, and setting time aside after a long show day are all really valuable. If the friends you spend time with at horse shows are also serious about their education, you can all do work together and it makes it easier to find times to get work done; it’s also just more fun to work with company.
NF: Some argue that you don’t necessarily have to follow the path of competing in the equitation divisions to find success in the higher levels. However, the top riders today, including yourself, are prime examples that the American riding system helps to establish the basics that then breed success when transitioning into the jumper ring. Describe your experience being brought up in the American system of riding and why you think it is important to be well versed in the basics for future success.
LD: In today’s top level sport, the courses often test rideability and without having a rideable horse or being able to teach a horse rideability it can be hard to achieve success. The equitation division is not only about form, but form and function. The rideability instilled by equitation courses, which are often very similar to jumper courses, definitely carries over when riding jumpers. The day-to-day lessons provided by doing equitation have had a large impact on my riding, however, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through equitation is how to handle pressure better, specifically in championships. The pressure to execute a tough test during Medal Finals, for example, is fairly similar rallying for a double clear round in a crucial nations cup. I believe the practice I’ve gotten in these pressure situations, particularly in equitation finals, will directly correlate to my performance under pressure in the jumper ring.
NF: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about riding/success in this industry?
LD: A very valuable piece of advice I’ve received about succeeding in this industry is that there are no shortcuts. In order to get to the top of the sport you must work tirelessly to improve. Having this work ethic, being determined to succeed, and playing by the rules will help get you there. Another piece of advice I take to heart is that there is no “I” in team. The success I’ve been fortunate enough to have in the sport thus far has been a direct result of the incredible team I have behind me. The team of individuals outside of the ring – including my family, and the grooms, vets, and farriers who all keep my horses in top form – make what happens inside of the ring possible.