Avery Glynn may be the daughter of two horse trainers, but she’s forging her own path as she works her way to the top. Most recently the 16-year-old from Petaluma, California, won the American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge, held June 21-23 during Blenheim June Classic 3.
The class, open to junior and amateur riders who have not won a national equitation final at 3’6”, was part competition, part clinic. After a warm-up day, riders showed in an over-fences round. That evening riders, trainers and judges participated in a question-and-answer session, followed by a presentation by mental skills coach Tonya Johnston.
The next day, riders returned for a second over-fences round. (They received judges’ comment cards from both rounds.) The top six riders worked off to determine the winner.
Glynn was called back in sixth place and went first, laying down a round that no one could beat. She also was awarded the Equ Lifestyle Boutique Best Equitation Style Award.
Glynn competed her horse Cocon 4, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare by Cero whom she has been riding since 2016. James Hagman of Elvenstar Farm trained her to the win.
Glynn has four horses whom she keeps at her father Ned Glynn’s farm, Sonoma Valley Stables, and at her mother Hope Glynn’s farm, Hope LLC.
We caught up with Glynn to learn more about her win, her life at home and her good luck routine.
First a huge congratulations on your win. How did that feel?
I felt a little surprised and extremely excited and very grateful. I had an amazing horse and a great team that week.
What did you think of the challenge format?
I liked how the courses were set and that six people made it into the work off. I felt like it gave more people the opportunity to move up.
The educational clinic for everyone in the middle was a neat idea. What was the most helpful?
I found the question-and-answer panel with the judges the most helpful.
What it was like growing up around the family barn?
I was always out at the barn. I basically lived on the same property at Sonoma Valley Stables. So, I started riding because my parents did it. I feel like I learn a lot about horses, even more than just riding. It’s really nice. I can kind of go out whenever I want and visit my horses. I feel like it’s taught me a lot, and I really enjoy it.
What are you working on right now in your lessons?
So, especially in the American Tradition of Excellence Equestrian Challenge, presented by Whitethorne, I landed and held the counter-canter, and that’s something I’ve been working on a lot recently with Cocon 4, along with trot jumps. Sometimes she tries to get fast at the trot jumps, so I practice a lot of medal tests, landing, holding the counter-canter, flying changes to the counter-canter, halts and trot jumps at home.
And then, more on my part, I kind of practice different releases for the different horses that I ride. When I’m doing it with my main equitation horse, I do more tests, and when I’m riding different horses, I do more grid work and stuff, where I feel like I can help the horse, but also work on something for me.
I believe you had to hold the counter-canter over two jumps last week.
Yeah. The test was to go in and canter the triple bar, and then counter-canter off the right lead in, and then counter-canter off the left lead in. So, I was able to hold both of those.
Were you worried about doing that, or did you feel very confident?
I was a little more worried about the right lead counter-canter than the left because it’s sometimes a harder lead for her to hold, but I got on early enough that I could practice it once in the warm-up even before knowing what the test was. They usually ask for counter-canter, and since I was in sixth place, I was less worried about holding it than if I would have been right up on the top, because if I would’ve lost the lead, I wouldn’t have moved up at all. There was only room for me to move up.
And is she like that when you ride her at home?
It kind of depends. She’s a little bit of a hotter horse, which I enjoy. I feel like I match with horses that have a little more energy overall. She’s super sweet when you’re riding her as well. She’s very brave. She has a very large stride. She’s overall pretty simple for me to ride at this point. I’ve been riding her for so long.
What’s something that you do that people probably don’t know about you?
Up until now, I’ve been going to normal [brick and mortar] school. I feel like a lot of people from horses have just assumed I’ve always done online school or homeschool of some sort. I’ve always gone in a normal school.
Tell me a little bit about growing up with your mom who’s a professional rider.
Well, it’s funny. I don’t actually know the exact age it happened. I enjoyed it, but I never really felt I was super into it [when I was younger]. I kind of did it as a hobby after school, but I didn’t think, for the first four or five years of me riding, that I really wanted to pursue it. And then, probably when I turned 9 or 10, I started thinking of it more as almost sport. And from then on, I just wanted to do it as much as I could.
Besides four horses, do you have any other pets?
Yeah, I have one dog. Her name is Mochi. My parents also have other dogs.
Name a part of your riding that you feel you need to improve.
I feel I can always improve. Sometimes a different release is better, so I’m kind of learning to adjust my riding and my releases to the horse I’m on.
Tell me what a day looks like for you.
I usually head out to the barn around 8 or 9 a.m., and I ride about six horses each day. I take a couple lessons, usually about two lessons a day, and then I hack about four other horses.
Do you ever help out around the barn? Like bathing horses?
Yeah, especially at the horse shows, I do stuff like that. And at home when I have time, I really like to tack my own horses up. At the shows I usually don’t have as much time for that.
What do you enjoy more, hacking or lessons?
It depends. When I hack my own horses, I feel I can learn a lot about them, but I can practice a lot in lessons as well. So, I enjoy both.
Do you feel like it’s an advantage or a disadvantage being the daughter of a professional rider and child of trainers?
I definitely think it’s an advantage because I feel a lot of opportunities have opened up for me over the years because my parents are trainers. Obviously, I live really close the barn, so it’s really easy for me to access and ride my horses. And I feel since my parents are trainers, I had an automatic in to the sport.
Who gave you your very first lesson?
My mom and my dad both have been giving me lessons for as long as I can remember.
Have you ever ridden against your mom in a warm-up class?
Oh yeah. I’ve shown against my mom quite a bit, actually. I used to not, but now I do more and more.
How does it usually go?
It honestly depends on the class. I do feel now I’m more of a competitor to her than I was a long time ago.
Is it fun family rivalry, or are you both very competitive?
It’s fun family rivalry. I think we’re both a little bit of competitive people, but I think it’s just fun overall.
What’s something silly that’s happened due to riding?
If I’m riding a horse for another trainer, sometimes I don’t get a full description of the horse. I just get told it’s a bay or a mare or something. So, one time I went up to the ring and asked a groom about it and got on this pony because I thought it was mine to ride and walked away on it, but it wasn’t the pony I was supposed to be riding! It was some other kid’s pony, and I was riding it! I felt really bad; it was just really embarrassing.
What’s your favorite type of obstacle?
On Cocon 4, my favorite jump is probably the water jump because she jumps it so easily. I can kind of ride up to it as if it’s just a normal jump, and she jumps it really well, which is fun.
Do you have any good luck charms or superstitions?
Well, I don’t have as much of a lucky charm, but kind of a routine thing is I almost always hack her in the morning, because I feel like it lets me know where she’s at for the day. I really like to ride my horse in the morning.
What’s your favorite or your fondest memory of catch-riding?
Well, a pretty cool one was last year at [Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship—West Coast (California)]. I got to catch ride a horse named Fleur De Lis, and we ended up being champion, which was really fun, as I’d only ridden her the day before for the first time. She was a large chestnut mare, and she was really good. She was great, super brave. She had a really big stride, and I really enjoyed riding her.
I have a USHJA Horsemanship Quiz practice question for you: Name a U.S. equestrian who is an Olympic medalist.
Ella Doerr, 18, from Avon, North Carolina, is a recipient of the USHJA Youth Leadership Award, the USHJA Youth Sportsmanship Award and the USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant. Since she was 7 she’s bought and paid for her ponies with her own earnings while keeping them at home and performing all their care. She’s brought them along from just broke to zone championships and USEF Pony Finals (Kentucky). She’s the brand ambassador for multiple companies and chairs the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Youth Group. She volunteers for charities and has managed three horse shows to raise funds for terminally ill children. She’s heading to Goucher College (Maryland) this fall.