SHANNON SMITH #madeoftherightStuf
SA Showjumper – Law Student
Sponsored by: Royal feeds, Ariat Europe, Western Shoppe, STUF
At just 20 years old Shannon Smith has impressed us with her passion, enthusiasm, professionalism and charisma. She is undoubtedly talented and is simply inspirational to every young rider, horse lover and fellow athlete.
What did it feel like the first time your rode?
Shannon: “The first time I rode a pony I was 3 years old. I was in Cape Town having lunch with my family at restaurant that offered pony rides for the kids. It obviously made a big impact on me because I’ve been hooked ever since!”
What made you realise you had a passion for horses?
Shannon: “I’ve always loved animals since I was very young. When I started horse riding I immediately took to horses and have loved them from the first moment I came into contact with them. My mom played a big role in my passion for horses as well. She has been very involved in my riding from the start, taking me riding everyday since I was 3 years old, being at every lesson and competition and encouraging me to pursue and follow my dreams.”
What made you decide to take up showjumping as your chosen discipline?
Shannon: “In my earlier riding days, I took part in some dressage and equitation competitions but always had a greater interest in showjumping. When I started competing in the higher grades of Pony Riders I decided to put all my focus and effort into showjumping as it was the discipline I wanted to succeed in.”
What is the really hard stuff about being a showjumper/professional rider?
Shannon: “With riding comes a lot of sacrifice and a great deal of responsibility to your horses. Horse riding made it very difficult to take part in sports at school as I had to be at the yard every afternoon to ride my horses or for my lessons. I couldn’t take part in sports events at school on the weekends either as my weekends were filled with competitions. As a horse rider, one’s social life also takes a back seat as your life revolves around your horses and competitions.
Varsity has also been a struggle as big competitions start during the week, which means I have to often miss lectures. Riding consists of lots of early mornings, many hours in the saddle, longs days in the sun and often a lot of heartbreak. With regards to my dieting and exercising, I am quite conscious about what I eat and try get to the gym as often as possible, as I need to be in the best shape in order to compete more successfully.”
What are your 5 essential tips for someone who would like to reach a competitive level of riding?
Shannon: “1) I think a person’s attitude is one of the most important factors. One needs to be very dedicated, passionate and hardworking in order to be a successful showjumper. You need to be able to deal with all the lows that comes with riding and have the ability to learn from it.
2) A love and passion for horses and the sport.
3) A good support structure. A competitive horse rider needs the support of their family and friends as well as good financial support as riding becomes very costly.
4) Someone who is looking to become competitive needs to choose the right trainer and yard in order to begin their careers correctly. A good foundation is paramount to becoming successful one day.
5) Good horses to allow you to reach your full potential. A horse plays as big role in a showjumper’s career and success.
How important is it to have a relationship with your horse?
Shannon: “I think having a natural feel for a horse and a talent to go with it helps in a riders success in showjumping. However, I also think a rider with less talent or natural feel still has the ability to be as good as other riders if they put in the hard work and time. One of the most important aspects of showjumping and being successful in showjumping, I think, is to have a strong bond and relationship with your horse. A horse and rider who know one another’s strengths and weaknesses and who have a lot of trust in each other are the ones who have better success in competitions.”
Follow Shannon Smith on Social Media
Facebook: Shannon Smith – SA Showjumper