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March 7, 2011

Life After The Equitation

Calapuno and Julie competing at Hickstead over the summer.

Meet the Chronicle's newest blogger: Julie Welles. Julie was a top junior rider, winning the 2005 USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East and the Washington International Equitation Classic Final as well as winning consistently in the junior jumpers. She grew up riding with Linda Langmeier and then became a working student for equitation trainer Missy Clark. Julie will be sharing her days as a young professional in the horse show world.

To so many people who are graduating out of the junior ranks it seems like their life is coming to an end after the last equitation final of the fall is complete. I was one of them!

For seven years I had the same schedule and the same routine, and it was for sure my comfort zone. Well, let me tell you, it is all just beginning again. If you were to ask me in 2005, after I won USET Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, where I thought I would be in five years, I would not have even imagined saying working for Olympian Laura Kraut.

I owe so much to Missy Clark and John Brennan from North Run and Linda Langmeier for their training and help during my junior years, but if it wasn’t for Lauren Hough, who sent me to ride for Laura, I would not be where I am today!

So let’s backtrack a bit. After becoming a professional in 2007, I worked for Missy and John at North Run for a year. I then decided I was going to give school a go in 2008, but I couldn’t stay away from the horses for very long. So while going to school, I started working part time for grand prix rider Lauren Hough.

Toward the end of 2008, I made the move and started working for Laura Kraut full time and taking college classes on the side. I am currently going on my third winter with Laura and her sister, Mary Elizabeth Kent, while trying to wrap up school by completing online classes.

Laura is an amazing person, always upbeat. I learn so much from her on a daily basis and, of course, hard work is vital. I guess you would call me Laura’s assistant rider. I ride the sales horses and youngsters at home and in many of the competitions as well as help Mary Elizabeth with the barn operations. We spend roughly six months in Wellington, Fla., gearing up for and competing in the Winter Equestrian Festival and six months based out of England.

Being able to compete at WEF is fantastic, but it is a long 12 weeks. Now we are on Week 9. The week is action packed! The young horses will be jumping as well as the 1.40 and 1.45-meter horses.