I took my first official riding lesson at age 8, was hooked, begged my parents for regular lessons, and eventually my very own horse. I grew up in rural Wisconsin showing at local 4-H and breed shows competing in anything from Western Pleasure to Hunt Seat Equitation to Competitive Trail Class and everything in between. I eventually discovered eventing when my 4-H club took a trip to Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, and that was when I decided that I would compete there one day.
After that trip, I dedicated my life to eventing and sought out all the possible information and instruction that I could. My parents bought a farm during that time, and I was lucky enough to have several horses at home, start teaching lessons, and train horses. Thanks to that farm and my parents' guidance, I learned the importance of hard work and the dedication it takes to follow your dreams.
After many different trainers, horses, and working student positions, I started a successful lesson and training operation in Lexington, KY. While there, I coached the University of Kentucky Dressage Team and taught students of every level from Starter through CCI3*. I produced several horses to the upper levels, most notably Katherine O'Brien's horse Ramsey to CCI4*-L.
During this time, I started riding with Phillip Dutton (multiple-time Olympian and medal winner), and that's when my dreams began to become a reality. In the fall of 2015, he offered me a job, so I packed my bags and moved to Pennsylvania to immerse myself in his program. In early 2017, I was promoted to head rider and had the opportunity to compete some of his young horses from Beginner Novice through the CCI3*-S level. After gaining more knowledge and skills than I could've ever hoped for, I felt it was time to go out on my own. So in 2020, I started my lesson and training business, Emily Hamel Eventing, operating out of Phillip's True Prospect Farm.
While working for Phillip, I started riding the most talented, intelligent, brave, and sassy horse I had ever sat on. He was there to be sold, but no one could ride him well because of his quirkiness. I loved everything about this free-spirited grey Holsteiner and, thanks to my parents, was able to buy my horse of a lifetime, Corvett (affectionately known as Barry).
After lots of training, competing, and riding the rollercoaster that is eventing, we finally got qualified to run a CCI5*. In 2021, we made our CCI5* debut at Kentucky with no jumping penalties and only a handful of time to finish 21st out of a field of 60+ horses. We were also the highest placed CCI5* first-timers. That fall, we completed the Maryland 5*, adding only 1.6 time penalties to our dressage score to finish in 14th place, making us the biggest movers up the leaderboard. We also were awarded the MagnaWave Ride of the Day in show jumping for our crowd-pleasing performance.
This year started in Aiken, SC, at the beautiful Vaughn Equestrian facility. I had a great group of clients that made Aiken 2022 one to remember. I will be basing my program there again in 2023 and have some spots available. Please inquire if you want to have a fun and educational winter season surrounded by a supportive group of wonderful people.
While in Aiken, Barry and I competed in the Grand Prix Eventing, finishing right outside the top 10. We then finished 6th in the competitive Stable View CCI4*-S. During this time, we were anxiously waiting to get off the Badminton waitlist because we were feeling more than ready to take on the challenge. As we waited, I was blown away by how much support we received from friends, family, and Team Barry fans to chase this dream.
Right after Stable View at the beginning of April, we packed up and headed home to PA. Literally, the next day I tore my meniscus and had to have knee surgery later that week. This certainly changed our preparation leading up to Badminton. Thanks to the amazing people I'm surrounded by, Barry was kept in work, and I was taken care of. About a week after my surgery, I got the call that I was accepted into Badminton! So it was full steam ahead to make it happen, even with an injured knee.
When we arrived at Badminton, it was better than I could have ever imagined. Barry handled the atmosphere well and showed his athleticism throughout the event. We completed our first Badminton happy and healthy. We are staying in England for the summer at Wayfarer Eventing, doing a couple of events here in preparation for Burghley at the beginning of September. This journey continues to be a significant and exciting endeavor. If you would like to be a part of it, please check out the Team Barry page for more information.
That's my story so far, but if you want to stay up to date with all of the happenings at Emily Hamel Eventing, you can subscribe to a monthly newsletter below. And in the meantime, enjoy the ride!
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