In the Ring with Augusta Iwasaki
Meet Augusta Iwasaki, winner of Gladstone cup, WCE medal finals, the $100,000 hunter prix, and 2021 Maclay regionals. She was also grand champion of the junior hunters not only at Junior Hunter Finals, but also at Capital Challenge, Harrisburg, and Washington. She is currently a student at the University of Nebraska Online Highschool and is going to SMU next fall! Now, let's take a peek at her life.
What does a typical day in your life look like for you?
I wouldn’t say I really have a typical day. Days at shows are always different, depending on what day of the week and how many horses are showing. I usually ride around six to eight horses a day at the shows. If I don’t start showing early, I try to get any hacking done before. After the show, I usually go back to the house and get school done. I do a lot of school on Monday’s so the rest of the week is a little lighter. Then, I’ll go out to dinner with my friends and family. I try to get as much sleep as I can, so the earlier the better! At home, I try to relax as much as possible. I’ll go to the barn and ride in the morning, and then I usually spend the rest of the day doing school and catching up with my friends at home.
As a top 3-ring rider, how do you ride differently in each ring? How much do you change your style of riding to benefit yourself (in the equitation) or the horse (in the jumpers or hunters)?
I don’t think I change my ride too much, but there are definitely little things I try to think about when going from ring to ring. In the hunters, I try to be really soft and let every decision I make be slow and unseen. In the jumper ring, I have to focus more on the effectiveness of my riding and make sure I’m being deliberate about my track. While I always focus on keeping a good position to make the best jump I can, I definitely focus on it much more in the equitation ring.
When riding a catch ride or even while trying horses, what do you do to get to know a new horse quickly?
The biggest thing for me when catch riding a horse is making sure I figure out the ride each horse wants, instead of trying to force them to go in the way I want. To get to know a new horse, I always flat for a while to get a feel and make sure to jump a few smaller jumps on each lead. I also always practice a lead change because I’m not the best lead changer.
Do you have a favorite ring? Why?
I don’t have a favorite ring. I think each one requires different skills, and learning to adapt to each ring has definitely made me a better rider.
What do you think sets you apart from other competitors within the show ring? Do you think it is because of a specific exercise you do at home, the type of horse you ride, your track on course, etc?
There are a few things I think set me apart in the show ring. I always have confidence and trust in my horses when we go into the ring, and I’m very good at keeping my cool in pressure situations. I also have a unique and special group of people to help me. My parents run a barn together, so I always have my family with me. I have also been riding with Ashland Farms for six years now, so everyone there is also like family to me. Having the people closest to me around all the time is something that I do think sets me apart in the ring.
What is the best advice you would give to anyone in the horse show world?
The biggest advice I would give in the show world is to be kind. This relates to riding and also to how you treat the people around you. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we are working with animals, and they don’t always understand what we’re asking them. This sport can be very rewarding but it can also be extremely difficult and disappointing. Being kind to your animals and to the people around you can really go a long way.
How do you make each horse look and ride its best in the hunter ring?
I think the most important thing in the hunter ring is figuring out how you can show your horse off and play to their strengths. Making sure you ride them in the way they go the best, instead of the way that comes easiest to you really makes the difference in their performance.
Who was/is the most influential horse in your life and why? In addition, who is the most influential person to you and why?
Two horses really stand out to me as the most influential horses in my life. The first is Small Affair. “Poker” was in my family for many years, and we grew up together. I watched him do amazing things with many different people, and getting to ride him was so special. It took me a long time to learn how to ride him, but he showed me how important it was to never give up. He also taught me about pressure in the ring, and how to deal with and overcome it. The second most influential horse in my life is Vanderpump. “Vander” was my first equation horse. This horse took me around all of my first big equation classes and gave me the confidence to go for it in the ring. The most influential person in my life is my mom, Elizabeth Reilly. She passed down her love of horses to me, and getting to share this sport with her is so special. She has taught me more lessons about horses and life than I think she will ever know.
What are some of your future plans or goals? Are you going to go pro? (If yes, why?)
I’m planning to make the most of my last junior year and then go to SMU on the riding team. After college, I am planning to go pro. This business has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. My parents own a barn together, Makoto Farms, and I’m planning to take it over one day. A goal of mine for my last junior year is to win an equitation final. I also would love to start jumping FEI classes and get experience in the jumper ring.
What are some of your go-to exercises to work on with any horse?
I like to do a lot of pole and cavaletti exercises with all my horses. I think it’s really good practice because you can set them in any way you want or need to work on, without wasting your horse's legs. I also do really see a difference in my strength and balance when I do no stirrups every day.
Top 3 grooming products? Corona Shampoo, Sound Hoof Dressing, and MTG
Go-to TV show or movie? Shameless
All-time favorite horse show (or venue)? The Devon Horse Show
What is one food you could eat forever and never get sick of? Sushi
3 things that are always with you at horse shows? A protein bar, my backpack, and my dog Percy