What's It Like To Be A Junior Superstar?—Reed Kessler

Jul 8, 2011 - 11:23 AM
Photo by Mollie Bailey

Reed Kessler,16, was no stranger to victory at a young age. Two years ago, when she was just 14, she captured the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall Of Fame Junior Jumper Classic at Devon (Pa.) as well as the Pessoa/USEF Hunt Seat Medal at the same show. She went on to become the USEF individual junior jumper gold medalist at the Pennsylvania National. But she’s had her eyes on even bigger prizes in the last two years, expanding her competition schedule to include more grand prix classes and international events. In 2010, some of her highlight performances included winning the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Grand Prix (Ky.), placing fifth in the young rider individual show jumping at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Riders Championships and winning the $42,711 Land Rover Grand Prix CSI** at the Gucci Masters in Paris. This spring, she was one of five young riders chosen to represent the United States on the Show Jumping European Young Rider Tour, placing fifth with her mount Ligist in the 2011 European Youngster Cup in Leipzig, Germany.

When you’re not at the barn or riding, where is the most likely place to find you?
I’m always riding or in a barn. Possibly sleeping on a trunk but still technically in the barn.

What was the name of your first horse or pony?
Shasha—Can you tell I named her at the age of 6 months?

How many languages do you speak, and what are they?
English, Spanish and my French is getting there.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of thus far in your riding career?
Winning the CSI** grand prix at the Gucci Masters over three former World, Olympic, European champions.

Who are your riding and non-riding role models?
Katie [Prudent], who I think is one of the toughest and most determined riders/people I know; Nick Skelton, who I think could ride anything (including the desk I’m sitting at) around 1.60 meters; Laura Kraut, for her bond and patience with the horses; McLain [Ward], for his textbook perfection; Beezie [Madden] as a former student of Katie [Prudent’s]—again textbook American [riding] style; and my dad, the self-made man.

What website do you spend the most time on?
Facebook. Not doing schoolwork; it’s a horrid addiction.

What is your favorite horse show snack?
Sablés. They must be brought to America.

Who is your movie star crush?
Johnny Depp and Leo DiCaprio in his younger years (circa Romeo And Juliet).

Where is your favorite place to take a vacation?
Watching a big show or championship.

What is your favorite brand of riding clothes?
I bounce around from Alessandro Albanese, GPA, Animo and Pikeur.

Do you have a favorite horse? Who?
It’s so hard to play favorites. Flight is my boyfriend (he’s a month older than me) and just so reliable and perfect. Mika and I are closer than I’ve ever been with another horse because we really made each other up. He used to be so nervous, and now we really trust each other. I think he has all the scope in the world. Onisha is definitely the most careful horse I’ve ever ridden, and Goose [Ligist] has come such a long way in terms of speed, and he just has the best personality. My little baby Pacha [Pacha De Nantuel] is relatively new, but I think he’s got a bright future!

Where do you want to live when you grow up?
We’ll see where my career takes me! A lot of top riders are based in Belgium, but that’s all very far away.

What is your favorite movie(s)?
Thank You For Smoking, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo And Juliet (I know so lame…), Black Swan (I go to school with a lot of ballerinas!), The Illusionist, The Hangover, Anchorman, Zoolander, Wedding Crashers.

Where haven’t you shown that you would like to?
Any of the Super League shows.

Are you thinking about college yet? If so, where would you like to go?
I’m not really sure if I want to go, but maybe American University in Paris. Next year is a big year for me because as of January I can do any class I want. So if it’s going really well at a higher level, then college would be a far lower priority for me. 

Category: Interviews

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