Chapel Puckett ’17 rides for the win and for her work

A profile on Chapel Puckett ’17’s summer of horseback riding.

SPECTRUM: What barn do you ride at, and how long have you been there?

CHAPEL PUCKETT: I live at the barn that I ride at and it is called Dandelion Farm! My family moved there when I was three years old and I have been riding since I was about five.


S: What first sparked your interest in riding?

CP: Believe it or not, I didn’t like riding at all until I was five. We had horses since we moved into the house, but I was uninterested for a few years. I got my first pony, Frosty, when I was around the age of five and I think I started to enjoy riding when I got him. I was very interested in the whole “horse care” aspect and I loved brushing him more than I liked riding him at that point! After that I got more serious about riding, as my parents did, and it became a great family sport which I have enjoyed ever since.

S: How does your riding experience this past summer differ from previous summers?

CP: This summer I decided to work for the barn, serving as a “working student” for my trainer, Ashley Woodhouse Slade. It was different in a few ways, but the major difference was the shift from only focusing on my own riding to focusing on helping everyone else out. I also was able to ride more horses at the show to take some off of Ashley’s hands. I was even able to show a few in some flat classes (not over jumps) when we had multiple rides in a specific division.


S: Did you enjoy serving as a working student? Were the hours longer than usual?

CP: I loved it. It’s very rare to find a job that you not only love, but you get to engage in your sport at the same time! I got to work with horses and learn more about what my trainer does while also competing with my two horses. The hours were slightly longer than usual, however, I’ve always been one to get to the show early and leave late. I usually get to the show around 6:30-7:00 AM and leave around 5:00-6:00 PM.


S: What was your primary responsibility as a working student?

CP: One of my primary responsibilities was communicating with the multiple show rings. We had 10-13 horses at the shows, so it was very easy to miss a division or mess up the timing for when each of them shows. To make sure this didn’t happen, I would talk to each of the ring gate people (who make sure everything is running smoothly) and figure out times for each of the horses to go. For example, my trainer might have a horse showing in ring 1 at the same time that she would need to show another horse at ring 2, so I would have to make sure that it all works out smoothly– which was, at times, very stressful!


S: Where did your barn travel to over this past summer?

CP: We spent a total of six weeks competing this summer. First we went to Mason City, Iowa for two weeks. Then we went to Parker, Colorado (a 15 hour drive) for another two weeks. Lastly, we went to Des Moines, Iowa for two weeks.


S: Which individual show this past summer stands out to you, and why?

CP: We usually do one show each summer that is further away, which was Colorado this year. This show stands out simply because of its’ distance from home, but it was also a very highly rated show. It had a $200,000 Hunter Derby with jumps close to five feet high — this isn’t a usual occurrence at horse shows! It was a beautiful show with great show rings and I would say that it stands out the most to me.


S: Is there a working student for each individual barn represented at each show, or is it unique to your barn?

CP: Each barn usually has a working student, or an assistant to the trainer, who helps ride/show the horses. We haven’t had an assistant for our trainer in a few years, so it was a big help for everyone to take some of the responsibilities

Submitted by Chapel Puckett, taken by Emma Wexler ’16; Puckett and her horse, Zandigo, riding through a course.