Ocala, FL – This week’s Sunday Spotlight shines on Faith Conroy, a talented amateur rider from Rumson, New Jersey. Conroy took a chance on a six-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding in 2020 and now the pair are competitive taking home ribbons in the Adult Amateur Hunter divisions. We caught up with Conroy to learn more about her career and how she came across Salsa Night.
WEC: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been riding my whole life. I come from a horse family. My uncle, Leo Conroy was a judge and a trainer and my mom trained race horses. I started riding seriously and competing when I was 15-years-old.
I didn’t have a full-fledged junior career, I focused on a green horse that I had at the time in the Children’s Hunters. When I went off to college, I leased an Adult Hunter, but took a break from showing. After college I got to ride a bit, but nothing too serious. When COVID hit, I moved away from the city and got a corporate remote job, so I had opportunities to ride again. I have been riding regularly ever since.
WEC: How did you find Salsa Night?
Believe it or not, I bought my horse as a Black Friday Special off Facebook. I didn’t try him, I bought him off a video, which I don’t recommend, but it ended up working out for me.
His barn name is Sal, but I like to refer to him as Salad. He came into my life in 2020 as a six-year-old. We went back to the basics, because he was pretty difficult and not very broke. We stuck to the flat for about six months.
I started going to horse shows with my barn to help, and we brought him along to get some exposure. We went to HITS Saugerties and Vermont. We didn’t show, but it was great for him to be able to go around those venues and get the feel for a show.
In October of 2021, we went to WEC in Ohio and that was the first time I showed him. I had never jumped him more than five jumps, but we did the Baby Greens and ribboned in every class. It was such a fun experience, and it started our competitive partnership together.
We came to WEC – Ocala for the 2022 Winter Spectacular Show circuit and competed in the 2’9” open division. He loves WEC, he does so well here and it’s so great to be able to ride in so many different arenas.
WEC: What are your hopes and goals with Sal?
My long term goal is to move up to the Amateur Owners and do the derbies. Hopefully over the Summer and next winter, we will be able to get there and be competitive. Eventually, I want him to be someone’s Junior Hunter because kids are braver than I am, and I know he would excel and learn so much.
WEC: What does a normal horse show day look like for you?
I have been training with Tricia O’Connor since I moved to Ocala last June. She’s been extremely helpful and Sal’s really happy with her. I do all of the care work myself when Sal is here showing. I’ll get here around 5:30am, throw him feed, clean his stall then lunge if it’s a show day. After that, I will head to the Show Office to get some work done. Everyone here is so supportive and flexible with my riding and show schedule, which is incredible. When it’s time to show, I get Sal ready and head to the arena. After showing I’ll make sure he’s all settled then head back to work until the day is over. Then I go do his stall, throw feed and make sure he’s wrapped for the night. Then around 9pm I come back to do night check.
It’s a very different experience to do everything on your own. When I showed growing up, I always had people helping me, and it wasn’t really until now that I had to manage myself and my schedule at a horse show. You don’t realize how hard it is until you’re doing it. It’s all about timing and making sure you’re prepared, but it makes you appreciate the sport that much more.
Thank you, Faith, for taking the time to chat with us! We can’t wait to see what’s next for you and Salad!