Becky Hart was born loving horses and started riding lessons shortly after she started kindergarten. For the past 30 years, her passion has been endurance riding, and she's become one of the top competitors - not just in this country, but in the world. Many times, Hart has represented the United States, and many times she's made us proud.
She's traveled more than 20,000 competitive miles en route to the American Endurance Ride Conference Hall of Fame, and twice won both the grueling Tevis Cup: 100 Miles-One Day Ride and the Race of Champions. Hart was also the AERC National Champion twice and is the only rider to have won the prestigious World Endurance Championship three consecutive times. Her many accomplishments earned her the United States Equestrian Team's Equestrian of the Year title.
In addition, Hart has a penchant for teaching. She's a Level III Centered Riding instructor, and for more than 20 years she's shared techniques for balanced, natural riding, and ground work at clinics and seminars across the country.
Having achieved so much, is she ready to slow down or rest easily on her laurels? Not any day soon!
"I'd like to compete in at least one more World Endurance Championship, perhaps in Kentucky in 2010," Hart says with a smile. "I have a terrific horse named II Damb Much, a.k.a. Buddy, who has the talent to do it. Ultimately, I'd like to have a multidiscipline facility, and incorporate TTeam work, natural horsemanship, and Centered Riding to teach riders of all abilities and disabilities. I really enjoy teaching. And there are books to write, and a website to develop."
Read on to meet an extraordinary trailblazer, Becky Hart.
TTR: What was your first up-close-and personal experience with horses?
Hart: I started riding lessons at age 6, with a patient and willing school horse named Lucky. At my very first lesson, the kids in front of me got to trot, and I remember wanting to trot, too! My first trail ride was onboard Lucky, into the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. At one point, a car came around a corner, scared my horse, and I fell off. I wasn't hurt or afraid, but my instructor, Mrs. Knight, yelled at the driver, and that made an impression.
TTR: Tell us about your first horse.
Hart: When I was 11 years old, my parents bought me a Quarter Horse gelding named Tiberon. He was patient, although certainly had his own opinions. He loved dashing under low-hanging tree branches, and he tested me at first. Tiberon taught me lots, especially that I needed to provide clear intention in what I asked of him. During the summer, my cousin and I would ride him from morning till night.
TTR: How did you become involved with endurance riding?
Hart: When I was 14 years old, I fell in love with a three-quarter Arabian that boarded at the same stable where we kept Tiberon. His name was Nusan, and he was just 2 years old when I got him. Eventually, he went to a trainer, and then I showed him successfully in just about every class possible: English and Western pleasure, equitation, Arabian costume, and trail.
In time, I met a rider at the same stable who owned a Tennessee Walker and rode endurance. I crewed for her at the 50-mile Castle Rock Ride, and afterwards I loaned Nusan to another endurance rider for a competition. They finished respectably, which made me think that perhaps I should give endurance a try.
TTR: What about endurance captured your imagination?
Hart: The next spring, I entered the Castle Rock Ride with Nusan, and finished 68th - using a Western saddle! Even though I couldn't walk for three days, just making it to the finish line felt really great. AERC has a saying, "To finish is to win." My horse was completely happy throughout that ride, and I discovered that I enjoyed going fast, too. It opened up a whole new world for us, and our show days came to a screeching halt.