Rider Interview with: Vanessa Mannix

Rider Interview with:   Vanessa Mannix

To be part of the ‘Masters’ and to be one of the five representing Canada this week is a real honour. Calgary is my hometown and Spruce Meadows is my home show, so I’m grateful to be part of such a big week.

Have you ever contemplated a career away from equestrianism?

I think I’ve always thought about going into the family business, and that’s something I wouldn’t rule out in the future. I’ve worked there in the past doing terms in between the horse shows. But I think right now, my career with the horses is going so well that it’s hard to see outside of the next show and the next season, particularly with some of the goals I’m focussed on with the horses right now.

The atmosphere here is one of the best in the world; how does it feel to compete here in front of your home crowd?

It’s incredibly special. First off, there are many people in the crowd I know, including friends and family. But also, in Calgary, we have a very educated show jumping crowd. There are some people who have been coming to Spruce Meadows for decades and they really understand and appreciate the sport, so to have a great round in front of such a passionate crowd, it’s so much more special than competing in front of some empty stands.

Which horses are you competing with this week? Can you tell us a little bit about them?

I have two FEI (CSI 5*) horses with me this week, who are both 10-year-olds – my mare, Catinka, and a gelding called Valentino. I’ve had both horses for a little while now, Catinka since she was seven, and Valentino since the very start of his ninth year. They’re wonderful, very athletic horses, with incredibly big hearts.

Catinka is a real diva. You could fall out with her, if you were having a fight on the flat, but when you walk into the ring, she’s a lion. She’s not a big horse, but she jumps pure heart, and she’s got great technique. She’s an overachiever when you look at her stature, as she’s not very tall, but the feeling is like you’re riding a giant.

Valentino is so sweet. He has actually got quite a cheeky personality, but when you go into the ring he’s very loyal and talented, and has been an incredible second horse to have here this week.

What is your advice for someone who wants to become a professional rider?

If you’re looking at a career in equestrian sport, you really have to focus on how much you love the horses. This isn’t something for you, if you’re only attracted to the lifestyle or to the glitz and the glamour of being an athlete, as that’s not what it’s like. At the end of the day, you have to be passionate about horses, riding them and their wellbeing; that has to be the heart and soul of why you want to be a part of the sport because everything else eventually wears thin.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Keep your leg on!

Who is your biggest inspiration? Do you have a show jumping idol?

There are a couple of riders I’m incredibly in awe of. One is Beezie Madden, while another is Laura Kraut. I think they’re not only two of the best female riders in the world, but also two of the best riders in the world, hands down. They really demonstrate that you can be at the very top in this sport regardless of whatever background you come from. And I really appreciate the fact that we’re a sport, in which men and women compete equally. They are two of my role models, who really show women that you can be at the top.

What’s your goal for this year?

My goal for this year is to continue to put in really great results in the Grands Prix. I’d like to be representing Canada at the start of next year. If I can put in some big results in the 1.60m classes this week then I think that really demonstrates that I’ve got what it takes to be part of the team going forward in advance of an Olympic year.

How has the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping enhanced the sport?

To have the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping makes the sport even more of a showcase that gathers the attention of the crowd and the public.

What is your show jumping dream?

My show jumping dream is to be in the top 12 of the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex here at Spruce Meadows.

source: Rolex Grand Slam