Rider Christy DiStefano captained Rodin (Roy) through several successful rounds this past weekend, placing 2nd in their section of the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Class, 2nd in their section of the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search, and 1st in her WIHS Equitation Section. Her hard work was rewarded with the Devon Horse Show’s Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship. Here we uncover how DiStefano prepared for the competition and what makes Devon such a special experience in the Equestrian world.
How did you and Rodin prepare for Devon?
Throughout the entire year, my trainers challenge us with many different types of courses in fields and indoor and outdoor rings. Being exposed to all types of situations helps all of us at Beacon Hill to be prepared for the show ring. To prepare for Devon, Stacia Madden set a technical course with lots of bending lines on the Tuesday before the show. All the students were to have lessons after school, however, Rodin (Roy) did not feel 100% and we thought it would be best if he did not have to jump. Stacia was kind enough to lend me one of her horses to lesson on. Later in the day, our farrier Arnie Gervasio and Dr. Mitchell rushed to Beacon Hill to tend to Roy’s soreness as we waited anxiously until the next morning to get the okay for him to show. Luckily, they discovered it was just a small shoe issue and Roy was good to go!
Are you superstitious? Do you have any pre-show rituals for good luck?
I don’t consider myself superstitious but I do like to carry a USET pin in the right pocket of my riding coat. All the riders from Beacon Hill wore the pin on their jackets at the USET Talent Search finals in 2008 and since then, the pin has not come off my jacket!
Favorite Devon Tradition (a certain food you always eat, class you always watch)?
My friends and I love the tea sandwiches at Devon. We always make time to eat a few for lunch every day. This year, I was convinced to stay for the Junior Jumper Classic and Hunt Team class on Saturday evening and that will definitely become a new tradition for me at Devon.
What makes your victory at Devon special?
My victory at Devon was extremely special to me. I have always wanted to win a class there and to win the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship is a true honor. This is my last junior year so it was extra special for me to be honored with this award and it was a great end to my last junior weekend at Devon.
What was your first memory of riding?
My first riding memory is of me being led around a ring on a pony named Mush-Mush and being too scared to be let go on my own!
Your first pony or horse?
My first pony was named Mickey Mouse. My parents bought him for me when I was seven years old. I rode him at the local barn from which we bought him. He helped me move up from leadline to the Children’s Hunter Ponies. My mom and I used to joke that he thought he was a stallion, he had a little bit of an attitude!
What is your daily riding routine (schedule)?
Aside from Mondays, I ride every day. My school has been very supportive of my riding and they let me take seven classes in a row and not have a lunch or a study hall so I can leave at 1:15 and be at Beacon Hill by 2:45. On the weekend, I usually start riding at 9 and get home around 3. I flat my two horses and usually up to three others with flat and jumping lessons once or twice a week.
Do you have any tips for riders aspiring to win at Devon?
At Devon, nerves can easily overcome a person. The Dixon Oval is intimidating and my first year there, I let the pressure and nerves get to me. However, I find that if I let my nerves overtake me for just a minute, and then I take several deep breaths before entering the ring, I make myself focus and mentally prepare for the course. Trainers and friends are also necessary to have as a support system. All the trainers at Beacon Hill, Stacia Madden, Max Amaya, Krista Freundlich, and Heather Senia, are wonderful in helping me to prepare for the show ring mentally and physically.