A few weeks ago, Absorbine® had the chance to catch up with Olympic rider Mara Depuy, a member of the 1996 U.S. Equestrian team. Mara is still active on the competitive circuit today, when she’s not teaching riding lessons or training horses on her farm.
Tell us a bit about your job and what you do in the horse industry.
I work at our own Willow Bend Farm in Virginia, where I teach riding lessons and train horses. We currently have 12 stalls full – four are my competition horses (I still compete on a regular basis), and the other eight are my students’ horses. My days are very busy with students coming in for riding lessons, and training the horses at our farm – plus trying to find time to ride.
How did you get your start in competitive riding and eventing?
I got started in eventing through luck really! I grew up in Stafford, Vermont and the local riding stable happened to be Huntington Farm. They ran a recognized event there and the farm focused on eventing. As a horse crazy kid, I started as a working student at age 11 and never looked back!
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
Definitely riding for my country at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, followed by the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina and the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil. There is something really special about riding into the stadium with the US flag on your saddle pad.
What is your favorite event that you have participated in or best riding memory?
Wow, that’s a hard one! I don’t think I could pick between two memories. The first being riding around Burghley for the first time. Burghley is “the” event, and to ride around that course, with all the history there, was a great feeling! The other would be winning Red Hills CIC on Nicki Henley in 2010. Nicki had returned from an injury that could have been career ending, but with a lot of dedicated care he felt stronger than ever. It was such a special moment to do the victory gallop on him because we had such a partnership and bond.
What advice do you have for young riders?
My biggest piece of advice is don’t give up. This sport doesn’t come quickly or easily, which is part of what makes it so special. There will always be low points, whether it’s a training block, an injury or just a string of bad luck, but keep working. It won’t just come to you but the highs will be well worth it!
Do you have a favorite Absorbine product?
That’s another hard one, we use so many Absorbine products at Willow Bend Farm. I would have to say Magic Cushion®. With the hard ground we have in Virginia and the amount of fitness work we do with the upper level horses, foot soreness can really be a problem. Using Magic Cushion after hard workouts and at the events keeps the horses’ feet so much more comfortable!