In 2017, show jumping fans around the world cheered on Karen Polle’s rise at the top level of the sport.
Polle is one of the most genuine horsemen you could meet, which makes the 25-year-old rider’s accomplishments all the more sweet. The New York native who represents Japan experienced the best year of her career in 2017, and closes out the last days of the year as the NoelleFloyd.com Breakout Rider of the Year, as well as earning the Leader in Horsemanship title.
Her relationship with her top horse, With Wings, is well documented and speaks to her deep devotion to her horse’s happiness. The quirky, former junior jumper has carried Polle all the way to the CSI five star level, and in February, when the pair won their first, five star competition, Polle was over the moon.
“I know I have a long way to go, but I’ve had Wings for seven years now, and this year, a lot of things clicked for me. I started to realize that on a good day, we can beat Mclain and Kent. That was a huge confidence boost for me. I never thought of myself as someone who could contend with them,” Polle said.
Polle went on to compete around the world in 2017 with the guidance of coach Rodrigo Pessoa.
When she was nominated for the new, “Leader in Horsemanship” category in the NF Annual Awards, it was among good company; Peder Fredricson, Luciana Diniz and others were also nominated. Polle was humbled in being named the winner.
“It really means a lot to me that I was nominated,” she said. “In this sport, you’re a partner with your horse, and everyday, I try to treat my horses with respect and put what’s best for them first. For the health and longevity of your horses, they’ll last longer at the top level if you design a program that puts their happiness first. They don’t have to be doing this. They don’t have to be jumping, so treating them well is a way to thank for them for doing this.”
Polle is now looking forward to starting the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival on a high note, and has high hopes for competing in the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games at Tryon. Her relationship with With Wings, and all of her horses, will surely continue to be one to emulate in the seasons to come.
Read more about Polle’s end of year thoughts and her New Year’s Resolutions at this link.