Natalie Pai: "Having a program like this is crucial to helping develop the up and coming riders
Beginning in June of 2018, The US Equestrian Team named two athlete-and-horse combinations, Kerrigan Gluch & Natalie Pai, for the CDI-U25 competition at CHIO Rotterdam, June 21-23, 2018, as part of their Discover Dressage™ USEF Emerging Athlete Program for Dressage membership.
Natalie Pai and Unlimited, had a solid start to their 2018 season with top placings at the AGDF . Pai and Unlimited helped the U.S. team win silver in the CDIO-U25 during week 12.
In her first European competition in the CDI-U25, and as part of the Discover Dressage™ USEF Emerging Athlete Program for Dressage, Natalie Pai showed regularity and consistency on her scores along with Unlimited.
After the wonderful experience in CHIO Rotterdam, then she showed in Leudelange, Luxembourg. Last but not least, her last show was in the dressage cathedral CHIO AACHEN.
How has the 2018 been for you?
2018 I was able to accomplish one of my biggest goals, which was to compete in Europe. It was the second season with my horse, Unlimited (aka Jazzy,) so we have developed a better partnership, and I am so grateful for him and all he has been able to teach me.
What was it like making The 2018 US Dressage European U25 Tour?
It was amazing! Competing in Europe has been a big goal of mine since I first started doing Young Riders. It was especially nice making it in 2018 because all of the riders were stabled together. It was so much fun being able to spend time with my fellow U25 competitor Kerrigan Gluch. We were able to watch the senior riders every day, which made a huge difference in my riding. I also had the incredible opportunity to train with Debbie McDonald, which has now led me to also train with Adrienne Lyle.
Where had you traveled this year ? What shows did you do ? Which one was your favorite?
I competed in Wellington during the winter. Then in Europe, we competed in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Leudelange, Luxembourg, and Aachen, Germany. My favorite was definitely Aachen. I’d only ever seen photos of the stadium, so seeing it in person and riding in it was surreal. The closing ceremonies was also the most unique experience of my life; all of the riders rode around the jumping stadium, which seated over 65,000 people, and everyone waving handkerchiefs with German marching music playing. It was such an awesome way to end the European tour.
How has being Discover Dressage helped your progress or growth in the sport ?
The Discover Dressage program gives young riders the opportunity to train with some of the top trainers in the country. Being a part of the program has provided me opportunities to have select one-one-one training with George Williams and Charlotte Bredahl-Baker. Having a program like this is crucial to helping develop the up and coming riders who will be the future of Dressage in America.
If you were asked to describe your discipline in a few sentences, what would you say?
Dressage is the highest form of training. It is considered to be the foundation for most equestrian disciplines. It is a sport that takes years to master, but there will always be something to improve upon.
Do you have any tips for dealing with competition nerves?
I actually find that having some competition nerves is a good thing because it helps me concentrate more and channel that energy into my performance. I usually visualize every part of the test so when I enter the ring I can solely focus on execution.
If you could ride any horse, past or present, which would you choose?
Secretariat because it would be awesome to ride the fastest horse of all time, plus I have the stature of a jockey haha
What is the most enjoyable part of dressage for you?
Aside from the obvious part of forming a bond and partnership with my horse, I really enjoy competing. There is no greater feeling than when my horse and I are able to perform in the competition arena what we have spent so much time practicing. And if it doesn’t go well, then I enjoy learning how to fix it.
What is a normal day like for you?
Over the last four years, I have been a full time student majoring in Business Management and expect to graduate this May. I typically ride my two horses in the mornings and then attend classes in the afternoon and evenings. When I am not riding or doing school work, I enjoy spending time with my friends and dog.
What are you looking forward this Florida season ?
I am most looking forward to the Florida International Youth Championships and the Nation’s Cup.
What is your advice you would give to a young rider who would like to advance in sport ?
Just like anything in life, being involved in horses is going to have a lot of ups and downs. It is so important to surround yourself with people who will be there for you and help support you. And always remember, this is supposed to be fun!