Reed Kessler Video Interview, U.S. Olympic Equestrian
Despite being disqualified from competition, U.S. equestrian Reid Kessler is still holding onto her dreams of bringing home an Olympic gold medal in the future. Kessler, 18, became the youngest American to compete at the 2012 London Olympics in her sport.
Born in Armonk, New York, Kessler almost seemed destined to be an equestrian from the time she was born. “I've been riding my whole life,” Kessler told Uinterview in our exclusive video. “Since I was six months old, my parents put me on a basket on my first pony and tied my stuffed animals to the trees, and that's how I learned to steer. My parents were riding for thirty years. My trainer is my godmother, Katie Prudent, so it's always been riding for me.”
From her early days of riding, Kessler started participating in competitive jumping at the age of 12, and hasn’t looked back since. Four years later, Kessler won her first major award after beating out Herves Godington in the Land Rover Grand Prix. The next year, Kessler won the U.S National Show Jumping Championship.
While Kessler is still trying to get used to her sudden rise to stardom, along with the amount of media attention she has been receiving, all the praise and media exposure have not surprised any of her teammates. "She's a very talented girl and was beautifully managed and has a great support team behind her," two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward told Newsday.
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It's been sort of like an out-of-body experience. It's been unbelievable. I moved out of the young rider ranks pretty early on, so I've been competing in the senior divisions for two years now, so I've competed against a lot of those top athletes one way or another. But this is my first year I've been old enough because of age restrictions as of January to compete at the highest level, so that's new. It's been so inspiring. I've just had so many young riders, even kids who have just ridden a horse once or twice, who just love horses, reach out and say, "You're the ultimate dream story for kids everywhere that love horses." It's kind of unprecedented, I'm still not on the team for sure yet, but it would be my wildest dream realized.
Maybe a little bit, but like I said, I've shown against them before and I've set the bar for myself now through the trials. I'm just gonna take it one day at a time, one jump at a time and keep putting in the solid performances. When it comes down to it I know there's the prestige and the weight of having your country watching and representing them, but it's just another course, another day riding on your horse.
I've been riding my whole life. Since I was six months old, my parents put me on a basket on my first pony and tied my stuffed animals to the trees, and that's how I learned to steer. My parents were riding for thirty years. My trainer is my godmother, Katie Prudent, so it's always been riding for me. I can't tell you the exact moment where I was like, "I want to go to the Olympics." It was just always — I've always known this is what I wanted to do.
I have a pair of lucky USA socks under my boots that they gave us for the young rider tour last year that I wore through the trials and I wore on the observation sites. Also I painted my nails green for the selection trial for Florida, and I did it again yesterday. My family can be kind of superstitious like that. Like my dad has a special baseball hat, and he holds one of the dogs and sits in the same place. He can be superstitious about stuff like that.
When I was in Florida, I had personal training three nights a week. When I'm on the road, I try to do intense workouts, you know, every other night. Try and run every day if I have time, but it's hard with the horse show hours, they can be all day, all night, competing late at night, but yeah, I try to go every other day. I try to eat healthy, but it's mostly working out.
I think I've had an even better experience. I go to the professional children's school in Manhattan and it's for kids that kind of have jobs. I'm not abnormal there at all. They have actresses, musicians, athletes, dancers. Some of the alumni are Scarlett Johnasson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Yo-Yo Ma, Vera Wang, like everyone there, one way or another has a job that they're always busy with outside of school. And the school's incredibly flexible. Without them I would seriously doubt I could be this close to graduating. I haven't physically attended since November. You know sometimes — okay I missed prom two nights ago, oh well. I'm probably not going to make it to my graduation, oh well. It's kind of like that for everybody there.
One of my dad's really close friends is Don "Snake" Prudhomme, a race car driver, a really famous race car driver, and he always tells his drivers, he told me before the trials that lions hunt better when they're hungry. So I try to eat in the morning and then be a little bit hungry by the time I arrive. Makes me a bit more competitive maybe, I don't know [laughing].
Yeah, I have a lot of eyes on me. I've been pretty focused all the way through, even to the build-up to the trials. I mean, as of two months before, I think I was like in bed at 9:00 every single night. I'm pretty focused. I have an image to represent young riders everywhere and kids that love horses, so I intend to hold that up to the best of my ability.