Representing the Union Jack: Emily Moffitt to Make British Team Debut This Week

Moffitt & Zagahorn competing in the U25 grand prix at WEF Week 6.

For American-born show jumping star Emily Moffitt, it all started in the rolling green acres of England’s countryside with her late grandfather. She was eight years old and standing by his side when she first saw someone jumping, and she was instantly hooked. Fast forward ten years, Moffitt is rising through the ranks, recently moving up to the CSI5* level.

Born to a British father and an American mother, Moffitt holds dual citizenship, and splits her time between the United States and England. She trains under British Olympic gold medalist Ben Maher, and competes throughout Europe during the summers. She admits that she feels more English than American, and that, coupled with her hope to one day make an Olympic team led her switch flags at the beginning of 2017. Moffitt now rides as a representative of Great Britain, a decision that was not easy to make as her mother was initially hesitant of the change.

As Moffitt began to climb the international rankings with numerous CSI2* wins from Verona to Valkenswaard, and with sights set on bigger goals, her decision to switch to represent Great Britain was the right choice—specifically competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Moffitt & Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve compete in the CSI5* division at WEF 7

Tokyo is well into the future but Moffitt is already on the right track and is letting her results speak for themselves. She jumped double clear in the $380,000 Suncast CSI5* Grand Prix on February 25, and when she won the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI2* in Wellington on February 12, with For Sale 6 [For Pleasure x Cassini I]—not only was it Moffitt’s first major win of 2017, it was also the first time the Union Jack was raised in her honor, and she couldn’t help but smile.

This week, Moffitt will put on a British team coat for the first time when she steps up to compete in the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Before her big week begins, we caught up with Moffitt to learn more about her supportive family, her first pony Clover, and how she felt hearing God Save the Queen play in her honor for the first time.

NoelleFloyd: What was the process like switching from representing the USA to GB?
Emily Moffitt: The process of switching was not complicated because of my dual citizenship and the fact that so much of my time is spent in the U.K.

NF: Your American mother was hesitant on you switching over to represent Great Britain, how did you persuade her it was the right decision?
EM: My mom was surprised when we initially spoke of making the change. We had started spending more and more time at our farm in the U.K. over the last few years as my riding progressed. I am half English and it started to be a question I was asked more frequently. Ultimately, my mom supports my decisions and it was a choice that made sense to all of us for where I am in my life and sport right now.

NF: Do you feel that you’ll have more opportunity for team appearances representing GBR, than you would have for the USA?
EM: I think opportunities come when you work hard. You can’t worry about how many other talented athletes are in your sport. If you concentrate on being the best athlete you can be and if you are fortunate enough to have a good string of horses, I believe the opportunities will come. In this sport you compete against all athletes from all countries more frequently than you do grouped by countries in teams. I believe the better your competition, the better it makes you. So the more talented riders there are, whether in America or Great Britain, the more exciting the sport becomes which is good for everyone.

Moffitt and Maher at the ingate, Palm Beach Masters

NF: Tell me about your current string of horses.
My current string of horses include all stages, from five years old to 13. Ben rides and develops most of the younger ones and I’m learning from him all the time watching the process. My dad and I believe it’s better to have young ones and grow with them rather than focusing on ready-made grand prix horses. My top three horses are For Sale 6, Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve, and Don Vito. I also have a group doing more of the 1.45m to 1.50m range that are incredible; they are Zagahorn, Harriri, Cassius Clay, It’s Real Love and Tisele du Park. They all have huge hearts and will do anything I ask of them. Some of the second string are still moving up and who knows where we will end up. It’s the exciting part of horses and the relationship with them.

NF: How did it feel listening to the British National Anthem when you won the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI2* on For Sale 6?
When I first heard the British Anthem, it was a bit surreal. It’s different from imagining it to actually hearing it. I couldn’t help but smile when I watched the flag rise. It made me think about how my English grandpa, who recently passed away, started it all with my pony Tina and how far I’ve come since then. He would have loved that moment.

NF: You have a great team behind you with your family, how involved are they and how do you attribute them to your success?
I’m very lucky that my family supports me as much as they do. The day I told my dad that the Olympics was my goal, the next day he was looking into things he could do to make that happen. My mom, dad and baby brother come to watch as much as they can and when they aren’t at the show, they’re definitely watching online even when it’s three in the morning. My grandpa would set his alarm to watch when I’m in Europe, so it’s definitely a family affair. I would never have been able to get where I am today if I didn’t have their huge support.

NF: How did you first get involved with riding?
I have always been an animal lover. My mom and grandma used to take me to ride a tiny pony named Clover and I would take care of her every day. It really began in England with my grandpa there. The first time I saw someone jump, I was hooked. I signed up for pony camp and stayed in a tent in the pouring rain and just leased a pony for the summer and away I went! My parents agreed to buy me a pony if I got straight A’s and I did. Tina was an absolute rocket of a pony and scared me to death at first. Once I learned to ride her, I became a lifetime show jumper.

NF: Your ultimate goal is to compete at the 2020 Olympics, how will you use the next four years to prepare for Toyko?
EM: Ben and I always talk about how great it would be if we were picked for the Tokyo team together. We are working hard every day to see that happen. Ben pays extreme attention to all details with the horses on a daily basis and I’m learning to do the same. I think if we keep doing what we are doing and keep building a strong string of horses we will be heading in the right direction.

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