Go Beyond the Ingate with Heritage Farm's Emma Simon
Emma Simon and Cyrus. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Hometown: Manhattan, NY
2023 Highlights: Third, Gymnastics Phase of 2023 USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final; 11th, ASPCA Maclay Region 2 Championship
It's been a fall season of firsts for Emma Simon, as she and her 11-year-old Westphalian gelding Cyrus have pursued the 3'6" equitation finals for the first time.
Simon, 15, missed the 2022 indoor season while her horse rehabbed an injury, and it had been nearly two years since she had contested a championship when she entered the arena for the ASPCA Maclay Region 2 Championship in September. She made the ribbons, finishing 11th, and carried that confidence forward to the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final, where she finished third in the gymnastic phase with a score of 87.
"It's been nice to come back to indoors and feel like I can be competitive, especially at Capital Challenge," Simon said. "The team at Heritage did a great job making me feel prepared. We prepare so extensively at home, that I haven't felt like I've seen anything at the Finals that I haven’t seen at home." After Capital Challenge, Simon and Cyrus jumped their first USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals at Harrisburg. Just before that championship, Simon learned that she was among the recipients of the 2023 Leo Conroy Equitation Grant, which she will use to compete at this weekend's ASPCA Maclay National Championship. "The application process was very thorough," Simon said. "It required a two-part essay, which asked about what riding means to you and what it has done for you, and three references. Receiving that email that I had won was definitely a good feeling. It felt like the hard work I put into it had paid off."
Photo by ESI Photography
Simon has ridden at Heritage Farm for two and a half years, a move prompted by the desire to be more competitive in the equitation divisions. As full-time student at Horace Mann—a college preparatory school in the Bronx, NY—traveling south for the winter months was not an option, but Simon didn't want that to affect the quality of her training. Heritage's Winter Warrior program has proved to be the perfect fit.
"Heritage has a great winter program. There is no one else that competes at this level that really offers that," Simon shared. "That was a big point for me. With school, I can’t go down to Florida. To have the same kind of training up north in the winter and still have that high level experience has been so important." She's moved up the levels with Cyrus, who at Capital Challenge was honored as Best Equitation Horse of the USHJA Jumping Seat Medal Final. "He’s just the best horse. He’s so kind in his stall and in the saddle," Simon gushed. He's so forgiving. He'll never hold it against you when make mistake, and there have been lots of them! "He's just wonderful and he knows his job. Even if he's in a new place, he just goes around," she continued. "It was the first time for both of us at Medal Finals, and he just marched around like a pro."
Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography
Simon credits the newfound confidence she's formed in the show ring to the foundation in preparation she's been able to build at Heritage. After Maclay Finals, she'll prepare for another winter at Heritage in Katonah, NY, with her eye toward shows at Old Salem Farm. Her ultimate goal is to earn a ribbon at one of the premier 3'6" national championships.
"I used to be a nervous rider. I was very anxious, and I had a specific routine I'd need to do before every show. What Heritage has given me is the confidence to know that when I go into the ring, [I'm ready, because] I've done my preparation at home," Simon shared. "Most things that I see at the shows, I've done at home, so that element of nervousness is no longer there. I can think about the course I’m riding without anything else getting in the way."