To kick off this year’s Rider Spotlights, WEF chatted with national equitation champion, Dominic Gibbs! Read below to find out about this accomplished rider, and how his childhood passion led him to found the Mountain King Ranch Equitation Grant and to launch his professional riding career!
You’ve started a grant to give young riders a head start by receiving a week of lessons at WEF; what inspired you to create this grant?
After winning the 2021 WEC Premier Cup with the prize of a new Chevy Blazer – I was so excited! My car was a wreck and needed a lot of repairs so I thought winning a new car was an accomplishment and could replace my old one. But when I thought of how much I could do with the money/value of the car – I decided to sell it and make some financial decisions. I fixed my old car and my parents’ hail-damaged car, and I started an investment account and set aside some to start The Mountain King Ranch Equitation Grant. The last four years of my life have been a whirlwind, with every year going faster and feeling more important. It was very hard for me and my family to get to WEF in the beginning – and the first time was just for a week of lessons ending in a .85 jumper class. It was only through the kindness and generosity of a lot of supporters, and a lot of sacrifices from my parents and family, that I’ve made it this far. It just felt right to give back to my roots and to help another young rider feel the excitement of coming to WEF for the first time. I was thoroughly inspired as I watched the international top of the sport in person for the first time, alongside every level it takes to get there. That one week made the impossible feel possible – and I recognized that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes many years to become the very best.
How do you feel growing up around horses has affected who you are as a horseman today?
I have always been around horses – but I am not sure there was ever a plan for me to get into equitation and show jumping. My mom was an amateur eventer and lifelong rider. She says she would dream of someday having kids with her at the barn so you could say my spirit has always been with horses. We moved to a ranch in Colorado when I was four years old – and as anyone with horses at home knows – there is never-ending work to do. Growing up around horses taught me how to have fun because I was a serious kid. Horses also taught me a relentless work ethic that fed right into my type-A perfectionist personality. I would say horses have brought out the person I was meant to be, and I continue to grow into who I want to become as a horseman. I am so lucky.
source: WEF - Ph. © Sportfot