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.
In 2022, 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 stayed in England for the summer at Wayfarer Eventing and did a couple of events in preparation for Burghley at the beginning of September. Burghley was another out-of-this-world experience that led to a Top 20 finish. I'm so proud of Barry and what we accomplished during our time overseas.
2023 highlights huge growth, including purchasing and moving into a lovely home base, Good Fortunes Farm, in Aiken, SC. Also, having an amazing run at the Land Rover Kentucky 3-Day Event in the 5* finishing 10th overall and 6th in the national championship. A solid run at the Advanced Championships at AECs, and an impressive 5th place finish at the Stable View Okotberfest CCI4*-S capped the early fall. The Maryland CCI5* finished the season out placing right outside the top 10 in 11th place. Corvett's 6th CCI5* completion goes to show his amazing abilities, he's never started a CCI5* that he hasn't finished. 2024 looks to be very exciting with Corvett in fine form, and a lovely set of young horses that are developing well at her new base in Aiken. They look forward to another year of growth after being named to the US Equestrian Eventing Developing Riders List for 2024.
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!
MEET THE TEAM
The people behind the scenes who help make dreams happen!
Head of Operations
Her passion for horses began in the midwest with backyard ponies and wide open spaces for riding, developing into a love for eventing and dressage throughout the years in pony club and working student positions. To further her career in eventing she started her own JEM Eventing teaching and training while freelance grooming to the top levels of the sport. The hours in countless barns grooming and observing a variety of management styles gave her a wide view of horse management.
A student of the sport, she has spent countless hours on the ground perfecting an eye for proper horse and rider growth. She uses that day to day experience to oversee the training and management of the program here in Aiken.
Growing up in Michigan, Rachel followed her mothers passion for horses and started riding at a young age. Spending countless hours on her QH and POA pony she discovered jumping. This lead into catching the eventing bug, and she now competes her own OTTB in eventing.
She keeps a close eye on the horses for us both in and out of the saddle. Her desire to work hard and learn makes her a growing part of the team.
Official Carrot Patrol
The horses's favorite member of the team. His visits are the highlight of training time!
DEANA HAMEL & PAUL SPRAGUE
#1 Supporters of Team Barry
From the beginning to now, they have supported Emily. The journey has been full of long days and nights. Deana and Paul's assistance both at home and shows is the building block of what this sport is about.
Barry's traveling Groom
Isabel's love for Barry can be witnessed at any three day event. As a team they have been to an array of CCI5* including Kentucky, Badminton, Burghley, and Maryland. You never know where they will team up next.