Last year, Carly Williams won the Emerging Athletes Program Training Session, held at the University of Findlay (Ohio), on a difficult horse. This year, she was back again, but in a different role: this year, she acted as the assistant to lead clinician Peter Wylde during his training sessions with the young riders selected to participate in this year’s program.
Williams, 20, is originally from Lexington, Va. As a junior and amateur rider, she catch-rode horses for several different trainers up and down the East Coast, including Tommy Serio and Alan Lohman just to name a few.
Since winning the EAP National Finals, Williams has continued to stay involved with horses, and currently trains for mother/daughter duo Lise and Annie Revers out of their Beechwood Stables in Weston, Mass.
The Chronicle caught up with Williams to see what exactly she has been doing since her win, and to get her advice to current and future competitors.
Chronicle: What does it feel like to be back at EAP since your win last year?
Williams: It is almost as great as it was last time, a lot less pressure. Its just as fun—I would obviously like to ride but it’s just nice to be back.
What have you been doing since you won?
Right after I won, like the week after, I was able to go down to Wellington [to the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.)] with Peter Wylde for the whole season through April. During that time, Peter got me a job with the Revers and so now I work for them. I’m still with Peter, and under his tutelage so it’s really awesome just to be able to learn from him and help him.
How exactly did that come about?
Peter’s barn manager [Nanci Snyder] did my regional clinic, and so as soon as I won she contacted me and they were really both interested and after the EAP Finals they were like, “We want you, you need to come please,” so I did.
I’m like, “How could I turn this down?”
What do you do at Beechwood Farm?
I ride the horses when Annie is not there, and I ride a bunch of them during the day, and when Annie comes home from school I give her lessons. I build the courses and gymnastics, and you know, I do it all. I build the course; I ride the horses; meet Peter at the shows.
Peter kind of takes over the training at the shows but it’s nice to be a big part of that. When she wins I’m like, “I did that. I was able to help with that!” She’s a great rider and she’s an awesome kid, and it’s a pleasure working for them.
What sort of help does EAP Nationals afford young riders looking to excel in the sport?
It gives you obviously great opportunities, but you know what you’ve learned here and at your regional clinic you can apply to your everyday, or everyday professional life. You take the little tidbits that you learn from Janus [Marquis, the equine physiotherapist], and Peter, and Anne [Thornbury, the stable manager] and you apply them as best as you can and as much as you can.
It’s definitely a good resource—I can say I won EAP and people are actually respecting that and it’s nice to be able to have that on your resume. You have all these good connections that you can reach out to as well, so it’s good.
What would you say is the hardest thing about the EAP Nationals?
It’s definitely a little bit of pressure. Beforehand, I’d ridden a lot of horses so I wasn’t too worried about that. I was like, “Oh, I get what I get and I’ll just try to make it work.” It did turn out that my horse was kind of difficult, which was fine. He actually turned out to be really sweet on the ground.
He was hard to ride, but you know you have to learn how to manage it, it’s just part of it. They’re not all going to be perfect. So for me it was learning the first day when we did our little hack, that I had a really strong horse and I’m a really little kid and I’m like how am I going to manage this.
So we were able to get it under control pretty well. It’s pressure but for some reason I was pretty cool. I do like some pressure; I don’t get too worried.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to current and future EAP students?
Well, obviously there’s pressure but try to let it help you, not hold you back. Obviously work hard in the barn. It matters, you know. It matters if you put your horse away with a wet saddle mark. People care, the horse cares. Work hard that way, it’s just as important as you winning the Medal/Maclay, it’s important. Learn from everyone and everything, and just work hard the best that you can—hustle.
Do you use the information that Janus and Anne talked about in your work today?
Yeah a lot of it, I’ll do something and remember, “Ah, yeah Anne told me that, or Janus said to do that.” I’m like, “Wow, it works!”
One piece of advice did you give riders going into the Nations Cup competition on the last day of the Finals?
Have fun, walk the course, make good decisions. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. It’s just about riding the best that you can on that given day and riding what’s best for that horse. It’s not so much about how beautiful and perfect you can be, it’s about how you can get the job done effectively and just riding, riding the best you can.