For Lauren Myers ’13, one of the top young equestrians in the United States, horseback riding means long hours of practice, hard work, and travel. On Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, she spends two to three hours at the barn before getting home around eight to start her homework. Her entire Saturday is dedicated to riding, and that’s when she doesn’t have a horse show. Sometimes she travels and sometimes the shows are local, but most horse shows require Lauren to get up between 5:30 and 6, spend all day at the horseshow, and finally come home around 10, only to get up and do it again the next morning. And in between rounds, there is very little time to think about anything other than horses. “Riding will always be a huge part of my life,” says Lauren. Since she was four years old, Lauren has had an interest in horses. It started with horse racing, something she was quite fond of as a child. Her favorite race horse was Secretariat, and Lauren dreamed of being a jockey. However, it soon became apparent that Lauren was going to be too big to be a jockey. But that never discouraged her love for horses.
“When I was 6,” says Lauren, “I went to a Little Bit horse camp at the Seattle Science Center and then we went to the barn to actually ride horses. We got to trot and I wanted to trot more than they would let me, so it sparked my interest in English horseback riding.” Soon after that, Lauren started riding lessons at the Mercer Island Saddle Club. For a little over a year, Lauren learned the basics while riding bareback (without a saddle). But it soon became apparent to Lauren’s trainer that Lauren was going to excel further than her barn could take her. Thus, when she was eight years old, Lauren went to Potcreek Meadow Farm, the barn where she currently rides.
After nine years of riding at Potcreek with trainer Cara Anthony, Lauren’s hard work has finally begun to pay off. Last year she qualified for three national finals, getting the opportunity to travel to Harrisburg, PA, Lexington KY, and Los Angeles, CA. Just being able to attend these finals is an incredible achievement in itself. However, Lauren ended up placing 7th in the United States Equestrian Federation’s Talent Search Finals for the West Coast. Of the three finals, the one taking place in Los Angeles, the USET, is considered the most technical. Not only are the jumps higher, but the different phases of competition test the riders in every way possible.
This September, Lauren returned to Los Angles to compete in USET finals again. She was tied for 6th after the flat phase, and received a 93 in the gymnastics to place her on top going into the third round. After the Grand Prix phase, Lauren’s scores qualified her for the Final Four. The Final Four is a work off between the top four riders where they all switch horses and must ride each horse over a shortened course. At the end of the day, Lauren finished 4th out of the 31 competitors, making her one of the best riders in the country.
“Balancing school and riding is hard,” says Lauren. “Riding involves lots of traveling and therefore missing school. But my teachers have been very understanding and have worked with me to keep up my grades.” As Lauren is a senior, she has also been juggling SAT tutoring along with riding and school. When asked about college, Lauren is still fairly unsure about where she wants to go, but her number one choice at the moment is the University of Southern California, which does not have a riding program. “I want to focus on my academics more than riding,” says Lauren, “but if it was possible, I wouldn’t mind continuing with horses.”