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AthleteI am Katie Dinan, athlete and competitive show jumper competing at this year's Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Ask Me Anything!

Oct 19th 2017 by kadinan • 12 Questions • 66 Points

Thank you to all the Redditors for great questions! I hope everyone enjoyed the AMA -- I had a great time! Looking forward to WIHS next week. I hope that many of you can make it!

Katie

I am a 24 year old show jumper competing in the jumpers at WIHS (www.wihs.org). I came to WIHS for the first time in 2003 with my small pony First Edition and have looked forward to competing in the nation's capital almost every year since! This year, I will be bringing my horses Dougie Douglas ("Dougie") and Tarioso Manciais ("Harry"). I am excited for the whole week -- especially the costume class on Friday and the Grand Prix on Saturday! I ride full-time now after graduating from Harvard in 2016. You can follow me on instagram (@katie_dinan) or if you are at WIHS, spot me by my blue hair (I dyed it earlier this year!). AMA!

Proof:

Q:

Can you give us a sneak preview of your costume?

A:

hint ... it's Game of Thrones themed ... and it's important that I'm riding ... any guesses?


Q:

Is there a blonde wig involved? ;)

A:

a long, platinum one, yes!


Q:

Thanks for doing this! I competed quite a bit (three-day, dressage and eventing) when I was younger and have recently gotten back into the sport.

The things I have struggled with the most have been psychological. When I was younger I would get so anxious and stressed about competitions that I would blank and forget my course. At the time sports psychologists weren't as acceptable/prevelant. I was wondering what your techniques are to maintain focus and not be overwhelmed with nerves?

Also: when I was younger I was fearless. I'm 40 now and after being tossed (intentionally) I've found myself shakey and having lost some confidence. Have you ever had a bad experience that has left you shaken? How did you work to get over it?

Thanks so much and good luck at the competition! I wish I could be there to see you ride.

A:

Hi FormigaX, thanks for your question. I think most people deal with some element of nerves, so your case is not unusual in the slightest! I also know that after a bad experience you can lose some confidence.

My advice would be to make sure you are always riding a horse you feel safe on, and to take small steps in gaining your confidence. When I get nervous competing, I find it sometimes helpful to remind myself why I do this -- I love horses and I love the sport. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves that we should be enjoying it -- we are lucky to have horses in our lives! I also find it helpful to take a walk by myself before competing, to go over the course, take a few deep breaths. For some people, it can be helpful to listen to music and calm down a little bit. At the end of the day, try not to put undue importance on any particular event. The great thing about horse shows is there is always one next week! I hope this helps!


Q:

Which horse do you like better?

A:

I never choose favorites! It would be like having a favorite child / sibling/ pet! Dougie I have had for a little bit longer than Harry, so maybe I know him a little better. I think they are both really special!


Q:

Hi Katie! Thanks for the AMA! Now that you're riding full time, what does a typical day look like for you and are you competing year round? Do you have a favorite venue? Good luck at WIHS!!!!

A:

Hi, thanks for the question! When I am not competing, I usually ride my horses in the morning and hang out/ help out at the barn in the afternoon. I try to spend as much time with my horses as possible. In the evening, I usually go on a run or workout, to stay fit. I also find running quite therapeutic. I also do a large part of our paperwork for the stable as well as entering competitions, etc. so that takes up some time; I usually try to do that Monday/Tuesday afternoon. In my free-time, I read a lot, and I have been trying to learn German this past year.

When I am competing, the schedule depends on the type of show. Some go all-day, and I will just be at the show the whole time. Others only are at night, so I will ride during the day, try to go to the gym, relax in the afternoon, and then get ready to compete.

I really like the venue of WIHS -- it is great to compete in the nation's capital, and the crowd is fantastic. Other than that, my favorite venues have been the Dublin Horse Show in August, which has amazing atmosphere, and I really liked a competition I did in France this summer -- Dinard, which had a big grass field and a great crowd.

Thanks for the good luck!


Q:

What do you do to calm your nerves before a big Grand Prix?

A:

If I am competing at night, I try to ride my horse during the day so I have time to go back and take a power nap. I am a big caffeine drinker, so that does not exactly calm me down, but I like to feel alert, so I usually have a coffee before heading over to the show. If I have time, I try to take a little walk by myself to go over the course in my head. And then I take a few deep breaths before getting on. I always remember to pat my horse before we start!


Q:

What would be your ultimate accomplishment in this sport?

A:

I hope to be as competitive as possible at the 5* level. It would be a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics or World Games, or get a top placing at a World Cup Final. It is important to dream big!


Q:

They recently opened a new Equestrian Center here locally, in an area where football and Nascar dominates. It's proving to be a huge deal, evidently, with a lot of money being invested, restaurants opening, hotels opening, etc. It has a long way to go, I'm sure, before it matches the facilities in FL or in the Northeast. But at the back of my mind I keep asking, why? Why build one here? Just how big of a deal is this sport? You say you graduated Harvard and are now pursuing this full-time. I didn't realize it could be a full-time gig. I honestly thought it was a hobby type thing, where participants worked full-time jobs or they were just rich, and so did this for love of horses and the subculture therein. How are you compensated, financially? I know you guys don't wear sponsor's logos. Are you sponsored? Prize money? You know, Katie, this could be your calling, to bring more light to your sport, to educate the uneducated masses. I mean, I honestly have zero interest in this sport but the curious side of me has begun wondering just how big is this thing?

A:

Hi Disc1022, thank you for your in-depth question. Show jumping has gained a lot of momentum, publicity, sponsorship, etc in the USA over the last 10-15 years. It is traditionally been a "bigger deal" in Europe, where many more people ride on both a hobby and professional level. The sport itself has some very high-level sponsorship deals for competitions. Two watch companies, Rolex and Longines, sponsor many of the competitions in the USA and abroad. Prize money has increased dramatically, which allows many professionals to support themselves. Grand Prix classes, where the winner usually receives about 1/3 of the purse, range from $25,000 - $1,000,000 in the USA. There is a Grand Prix in Calgary, Canada that has a $3,000,000 purse -- a million dollars to the winner! So yes, prize money is a huge factor. Beyond that, many of the riders have sponsorship deals, ranging from products they use/wear to "patrons" that invest in their horses. Of course, this is all at the high level. At a lower level, many "horse-loving" people ride horses as a hobby or high-level "amateur" sport. That is of course self-funded but the price ranges depending on the level at which you participate/the type of riding you are doing.

I obviously love horses and love the sport of show jumping, and I hope it gains more and more traction in the states. If you have the opportunity to go to your new Equestrian Center in your area, maybe give it a chance and see what you think!


Q:

If your top horses were celebrities, who would they be?

A:

I think "Harry" would be Harry Potter. Partly because of his name, but also because I think he is pretty magical, and sometimes has a little bit of attitude!

Dougie would maybe be Pierce Brosnan (James Bond -- 007) -- an Irish-born gentleman!

NuNu would be like Prince William -- to me, he is royalty! Definitely the "prince" of our stable.


Q:

That’s great. Good luck this week!

A:

thanks!


Q:

What are you most looking forward to during WIHS? I can't wait to attend!!!

A:

So great to hear you will be at WIHS! I love the atmosphere. The crowd is electric and that really makes the difference for the competitors. I always love the costume class -- I usually missed Halloween at school for a horse show, so it is fun to have the opportunity to dress up, especially with my horse! I am also looking forward to the Grand Prix on Saturday. It is a World Cup Qualifier and a really big deal for us competitors!


Q:

Do you do dressage as well, or stick to show jumping?

A:

I have taken dressage lessons to improve my flat-work in an effort to improve my riding overall -- leg position, seat, control of the aids, etc. I want to be able to flat my horses as effectively as possible, which is important for keeping show jumpers fit and ready to compete! I took dressage lessons with Michaela Gunderson (from Denmark) for a few years while I was in Florida. She really helped me. I have never competed in dressage.