Savanah Stuart is an amateur jumper rider who is rocking the 1.30m -1.40m's on her horse, Fleury. Fleury is a 12 year old Westfalian bay gelding that Savanah found on Facebook (another one of this girl's talents)! Savanah is a believer that horsemanship and sportsmanship are key ingredients to a successful partnership. We interviewed Savanah to learn a bit more about her life in the saddle and as a #girlboss.
JD: How did you get into riding?
SS: I started riding when I was 10 years old after months of begging my parents to let me ride horses. I am originally from Las Vegas so I rode there for a year and then shortly after we moved to California where my riding really took off. I spent my junior career competing in the hunter and equitation rings. I tended to buy green horses and want to help develop them. Once I left for college and became an amateur I was a little burnt out of the politics of the hunter ring so I decided to try a few jumpers and I never looked back!
JD: What does your training regimen look like?
SS: I do a really thorough flat lesson at the beginning of the week to help set up for our jump schools. My trainer Paul Haunert is exceptionally attentive to detail and amazing at developing technique so he has helped my riding excel. It has made flatwork really fun and rewarding to see the progress of my horses. I also try to get out on the trails to trot and gallop some hills each week when we aren’t competing. I’ve found that it really helps my horses level out and get a change of scenery while also being super important to their fitness. We jump twice a week, once over smaller courses to work on more refined technique and once bigger to keep the horses competition ready.
JD: What horse has been most influential in your life?
SS: This is a hard question! My last junior year I was looking for a made junior hunter and of course I end up buying a 5 year old that had only been showing in the 3’ Greens at the time. That horse, Andover, has a special place in my heart because we won a lot back east at Capital Challenge and were WCHR National Champions, but then he went on to be ridden by both my younger sisters and won the nation in the Junior Hunters in 2016. However, I definitely believe that I have had the deepest connection with Fleury, the horse I have now. He has such an amazing personality. He will go from dead quiet, bomb proof trail horse one day to riding a crazy fast, incredibly careful High Jr/AO jumper the next day. I actually think I can count the number of rails I’ve had over the last two years on one hand. I’ve also never had a horse that cares so much about you staying on as a rider. No matter how fresh he is, he will never buck or take off or do something stupid. He just seems to have a good soul and since I found him myself and have put a lot of work into him, he’s like my best friend. No bad day can’t be fixed by taking him out and galloping on trail.
JD: What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned from horses?
SS: The biggest life lesson I’ve learned is that when one door closes, another door opens. I had, what many would say is a lot of bad luck, during my junior years riding. I’ve owned 12 different horses compared to each of my sisters who had 4-5 main horses each. Random fluke injuries or weird freak accidents kept me out of the show ring a lot of the time as my horses were rehabbing. However, I learned a ton from catch riding other people’s horses, bringing my own back to full work, and every time I thought it was the end of the world when one would get hurt, I had the privilege of finding my next amazing partner that would teach me even more.
JD: What advice do you have for other competitors?
SS:While I didn’t get to get to the level I would have wanted as a junior, I’ve learned that it all happened for a reason and now there isn’t anything stopping me from achieving it as an amateur. I think a lot of young riders think they have to accomplish everything as a junior rider, but if you love the sport, keep at it as an amateur! My other biggest advice, more targeted for the hunter ring probably, would be to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in points and chasing qualifying for medal finals, but in all reality there’s so much more to riding than one year end award or one finals round. I see story after story of people cheating the system to qualify or get more points and it never fails to amaze me that we let that happen. So my overall advice is to be a horseman, things happen for a reason, and never let yourself fall short on sportsmanship. JD: Riding is a tough sport, what keeps you coming back each day?
SS: Definitely the connection we can have with the horses. It’s such a grounding experience and pretty surreal when you think about how a 1200lb animal lets us ride and jump them. I also foster miniature horses that have been rescued from slaughter which has brought a whole new rewarding experience into my life. In 4 months I’ve helped find homes for 7 different minis.
JD: Everyone falls off, what is your post-fall off routine?
SS: Lots of ice!! It cures miracles.
JD: You found your horse on Facebook?!
SS: I found Fleury on a video off Facebook two years ago and fell in love. I showed my trainers so we could set up to try him when he came down from Canada for Thermal. I’ll never forget when I got on him for the first time and they said “This one is all on you since you found it so it better be good.” He was hard to ride and super strong to the jumps so at first I wasn’t crazy about him, but he had amazing potential so I knew he would come around. A little more flatwork and a year later he was winning consecutive 1.30m Jr/AO rounds including the 1.35m Classics and jumped double clear in the 1.45m Grand Prix with my trainer.
JD: As it turns out, you are no stranger to embracing the digital world for horse shopping. Was that what gave you the idea for Scope Creative?
After years of buying and selling horses, I was always a tad disappointed with the word-of-mouth tactics of most trainers. As an owner who wants to sell their horse, I wanted to see that my horse was being marketed and that everyone knew it was for sale. When this wasn’t happening I started posting my own horses on all the different websites and Facebook groups to help speed along the process and gain more traction. After successfully finding buyers myself for a few of my horses via these efforts, I decided to start Scope Creative Services to help other clients with the same issue. I completely understood that most trainers are busy, and let’s not a lie, a little technologically challenged, so I wanted to provide a service that would benefit everyone. It satisfies the customer’s needs of feeling like their horse is being advertised, saves the trainer’s tons of time, and brings in potential buyers. Our Equine Marketing Package includes posting the horses on ProEquest, BigEq, Epona Exchange, Equivont, 20+ Facebook Groups, our website and social media pages, as well as an email campaign to 13,000 Plaid Horse Subscribers. We’ve narrowed down the most effective resources for selling your horse so that you don’t have to.
Thank you, Savanah! Keep an eye out for her and Fleury in the show ring!