Rider Profile: Mavis Spencer
HEY TBL Readers!!!
Are you a budding hunter-jumper looking for a true role model?
Meet Mavis Spencer.
As a nationally ranked show jumper, you must have genuine skill, determination and resolve to be the best. That is exactly who she is and what she’s doing. And you can see she is at the top of her game!
As horse riders, we all know that the only way to see results, and achieve your goals as an accomplished rider, is to train, and give it all you’ve you got!
When I asked Mavis about luck, she replied “Hard work makes you lucky!”.
Mavis Spencer, is proof positive that by studying, training, and competing, this is what it’s going to takes to canter fences of competition, and earn a place in the winner’s circle!
Thatbarnlife.com is excited to watch her make her way to equestrian greatness!
Name: Mavis Spencer
Location: Wellington, FL but currently on tour in Southern California
Barn Name: Gallop Apace LLC and Neil Jones Equestrian INC
Trainer: Myself and Rory Lenehan
Ridding Discipline: Show Jumping
Current mount(s) Horse Name(s), Age(s) & Breed(s):
- Cornetiero is 10yo Westphalian gelding by Cornet Oblensky
- Dubai 8yo KWPN gelding by Cardento
- Disco Lady 8yo KWPN mare by Quasimodo
- Chacco Boy 9yo Dutch Warmblood gelding by Chacco Blue
What do you currently do in your training that are key to your success?
I'm a firm believer that fit, happy horses produce the best results. My program is specifically tailored to the needs of each of my horses but at the end of the day I really try to ensure that they all get the best care and attention so they perform their best in the ring. I think the bond between horse and rider is very important when you're jumping at any level so for me having a personal relationship with my horse is key to my success.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
In 2008 I took a mare called Winia (that I bought as a 5 year old and had never shown) to Prix des States at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and won the silver medal in the team and individually. The best part of the weekend though was winning the William C. Steinkraus style of riding award because I think it really said a lot about how I had grown as a rider in partnership with my mare and it was nice for our efforts and progress to be recognized in that respect.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is probably keeping my nerves in check before a big class. It is getting easier the more I go in the ring but I definitely think I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well. Luckily I have an amazing set of owners who support me with really talented horses and that makes my ‘job’ a lot easier but I still want to do the best in order to thank them and sometimes that translates into nerves!
How did you get your start?
I began training with Meadow Grove (Dick Carvin, Susie Schroer, and Francie Steinwedell Carvin) when I was 12 and they definitely gave me a very solid foundation and taught me to get on a lot of different horses and adapt to what they needed but Neil Jones was the one who got me back in the saddle after 3 years and has allowed me the opportunity to step into the bigger classes!
What do you do to manage these challenges?
I like to keep my routine very simple before a big class. I always get my horses out before they show whether it be a light ride, more intense work, or a lunge, then I make a game plan with my groom Alex and just try to relax and take a deep breath before the class. Alex is great and I know he will make sure everything is organized and ready so when I get on at the ring I have the best shot at jumping a clear round and coming home with a ribbon!
What things do you believe differentiates you from other riders who have tailed off in their athletic participation and abilities?
I took a bit of an unusual path to where I am now. I actually took 3 years out of the saddle and groomed and managed for a few top riders and I think it gave me a different appreciation and perspective when I started riding again. I always took care of my own horses but I think grooming at a top level really helped develop my riding in the long run. I was able to go to a lot of the best shows and watch the top riders and learn from them which I would never have been able to do if I just kept riding myself. I also learned a lot of tricks about the horses being on the ground that I have definitely carried over with me riding now.
Any recommended (books, coaches)?
I'm a huge nerd and have 100%, read every horse book out there whether it was breed books, course designing books, veterinary books, anything horse related really! I just finished George Morris’ Unrelenting and I couldn't put it down! I'm a firm believer though when it comes to coaches you can get free riding lessons by just sitting near the warm up and observing!
What was the name of your first horse? What did you like about him? Did he have any quirks?
My first pony was named Cruise Control aka Norton and he was a HOLY TERROR. I fell off him several times a week but my mom always made me get back on and at the end of the day I finally managed to figure him out and it was the most rewarding feeling! He also taught me how to stay on!!
What was the best advice you’ve been given?
I spent a few years working for Kent Farrington and he always told me to make myself irreplaceable. At the end of the day there are a lot of people out there dying for one chance or one opportunity so if someone gives it to you, make the most of it! “The harder you work the luckier you get!”
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I think a lot of my inspiration comes from my parents. They have always been very supportive of my riding but at the same time they wanted me to work for it and appreciate what I had not because it was handed to me but because I worked for it. If something makes you happy, go for it. To them, giving up on something because it wasn't easy was never something they would condone if you didn't try.
Have you faced any closed doors in the sport/Industry being an African American horseman? How have you dealt with it?
Honestly I have never felt isolated or alienated because of the color of my skin. Maybe it gets me noticed more or I'm more recognizable but that's about it…
What advise do you give new riders looking to get into riding professionally?
Hard work gets noticed. I have always lived by the saying “the harder you work the luckier you get”. I'm a big believer that you may not realize it but when people ‘get lucky’ it's because they worked hard to get them self to that place even though you maybe didn't see the work they put in.
What is your favorite piece of tack?
All of my horses show in a breastplace and most go in a closed martingale. I think the breastplate helps keep the saddle in place and if I have one that maybe isn't the best at turning the closed martingale helps a lot with that.
What bothers you about the sport? Or what do you see that could be changed within the industry?
I would like to see a bit of a bridge in how much the sport costs. I'm not sure how realistic that is but I just hope that kids don't think they will never make it to the top just because they don't have enough money so to speak. Yes it is expensive to show horses and very difficult to make a living doing but not impossible!
Any equestrian clothing brands that you just absolutely love?
I'm very fortunate to be sponsored by several companies that I actually already was like wearing! I have been wearing Parlanti since I bought my very first pair of tall boots! I also love the whole collection from Animo. It's very comfortable to not only ride in but also to work around the stables which is important for me! I recently switched over to a Kask helmet and they are not only safe but also very comfortable! There is no excuse to not wear a helmet! I also just partnered with Oughton Limited and their bags including their new City Lux are to die for!! I carry mine everywhere at the barn or on the streets!
What is next for Mavis Spencer? And how can we get our finger on that pulse? Where to watch? Anything else you want to discuss?
I'm out in California for a few more weeks. I will show at the Sunshine Series in Thermal, Vegas, then head to Wellington where I'm based for the winter. I have an exciting new group of horses meeting me there! It's always an adventure having a sales barn and trying to develop the next superstar!