Wilmington, Ohio – This week’s Wilmington Sunday Spotlight shines on Joshua Graves of Hugo, Minnesota. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, the young professional has worked his way up the ranks while earning two college degrees and managing horse shows on the road. Graves has recently found his calling with Arbor Hill Farm in Hugo, Minnesota, and changed his status to professional after graduating college. We caught up with Graves in between rings to learn more about his riding journey.
WEC: Tell us about your riding career.
I started riding when I was three years old. I did pony camps until they told me I wasn’t allowed to any more! I started taking lessons and I rode at a lesson barn for a while. Then I leased my first pony and started showing and the rest is history!
I am currently riding for Arbor Hill Farm. We run a big operation and I love it. We have a fabulous team right now. Elizabeth Lampert is the head trainer and owner of the business. She’s absolutely wonderful and it’s been a pleasure working for them. It’s been the biggest opportunity I’ve gotten. It’s been nothing short of amazing and I’m really thankful for them. My weeks here are so crazy, but I love it because I get to ride so many wonderful horses and I have so many people backing and supporting me right now and I’m just so grateful for all of them.
WEC: How do you juggle riding and school?
I graduated from John Carroll University in May. I double majored in Sociology & Criminology and Spanish and Hispanic studies and minored in Business. Now I’m getting my MBA through John Carroll. I moved to Arbor Hill in November and I went professional in December.
When I was an amateur, for the first two years I groomed. I did that and I was on the road traveling, managing the horse shows. That was hard because it was during COVID. We were all online when I was trying to do that, and I found a way to make it work. I’ve been doing my master’s online recently so, it’s learning to balance riding my 12 to 15 horses a day, and then at night doing class from 6:30 to 9:30. Everything works in its weird way! I’ll be happy once it’s done, but it’s good. I wanted to get my masters so that I have something to fall back on.
WEC: How has WEC Ohio played a role in your riding career?
It’s funny because when I started coming here, I was showing in the 2’6”. It’s just like home here to me now. It’s so welcoming and it’s such a family atmosphere. I think it’s nice to be able to come here and to move up the ranks, to jump the bigger classes than when you’re a 2’6” kid. You get to live that whole perspective of when you were a younger kid and watching other people do it and move up. I think to be here as a professional it’s nice to bring the customers here from Minnesota. They didn’t come last year so this is their first year here. So, it’s nice to be able to share what I grew up on and how it’s kind of transformed me.
WEC: Do you prefer the hunter ring or the jumper ring?
I’ve been doing the hunters my whole life. I just recently really started to do the jumpers. We have a good string of jumpers right now. So, it’s been fun for me to be able to transition into that side of things because I can go into the hunters and it’s like second nature. This week I have more jumpers than hunters, so that was weird for me to have a week where I had seven horses in the jumper ring! I am really starting to enjoy it and it is really fun to move up the ranks.
WEC: How frequently are you on the road at shows?
We show every here two weeks with 10-12 horses. We’re here for two weeks and then we go home for 12 days, and then we’re back here again! We were laughing last night sitting at the dinner table saying this is really our second home. We’re here more than we’re at home right now. After this, we will be in Texas for three weeks and our summer season is full.
WEC: Tell us one short-term goal and one long-term goal of yours.
A short-term goal for me is to qualify for Developing Professional Finals at Capital Challenge. That is the main goal that I have set for myself this year. A long-term goal is to jump the bigger jumper classes and move my way up the ranks.
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