In the Ring with Carlee McCutcheon
Meet Carlee McCutcheon: champion leading junior jumper rider and classic win at the Devon horse show, Ronnie Mutch equitation trophy as well as the inaugural Hannah Serfass trip of the day at Devon, WEF Equitation championship 2023 winner, 2022 North American equitation championship winner, Team gold at Prix des States, 4th at Maclay finals, 9th at USET Finals, among many other impressive accomplishments. Breeches and Sweats got a chance to pick Carlee’s brain a little bit about her life as a competitive 3 ring rider and her background in reining.
What does a typical day in your life look like for you?
An average day at home starts at about 7:30 am. We flat the horses earlier in the week, and towards the end of the week we usually jump a bit depending on what we are preparing for!
What’s it like being in a family of equestrians?
I feel extremely fortunate to come from a horse family. Horses have always been a part of my life, and I have always had the opportunity to learn every day from my parents and grandparents about horses since I was very little.
You’ve posted and talked a little bit about how you also do reigning. What is it like transitioning from the hunter/jumper world to the reigning world? Are they similar at all?
This year I have really taken a step back from the reining to focus on the jumpers/equitation, but being able to do both for such a long time was always so fun. I love horses, so to have been able to compete in both disciplines was really special to me.
What do you think sets you up for so much success in the jumper ring?
I think the most valuable part for me is having such a great team around me, it truly takes a village and a lot of hard work to make everything possible, so I'm very grateful to everyone that's made it possible especially the horses that I am able to ride!
As a competitive 3-ring rider, do you have a favorite ring to compete in?
I love having the opportunity to show in all three rings. I love the equitation so much, but I am also excited for the future in the jumper ring to hopefully represent the US in team competition one day!
You shined in the WEF Equitation Championship. What was your experience like competing in it? How did you prepare for it?
Preparing for the WEF Equitation Championship was not too different from our prep for the normal equitation classes. My horse (Chacco Star) is very seasoned in the eq ring, which I believe gives me an advantage. He makes me very confident, so I was just trying to go out there and have fun.
Do you wear an air vest all the time, just for showing, or for specific classes? Why?
I try and wear my air vest as much as I can while jumping. I think it's been the best step towards safety our sport has taken with the air vest!
Who is the most influential horse in your career and why?
I would have to say the most influential horse I have had is MTM Unexpected. He has been my partner for four years now and has taken me from the children's jumpers to my first U25 and Grand Prix wins. He has taught me so much!
What is the best advice you would give to anyone in the horse show world?
The best advice I have received and would share to others would be to have fun with it. I have learned that if you worry too much about the results, it usually won't go your way. Just focus on sticking with your plan as best as you can and enjoy the process.
What are some of your goals for the rest of the 2023 season?
This year my biggest goals are to stay consistent throughout the finals season and hopefully to have a podium finish at NAYC.
Since this is your last junior year, what does your future look like?
I still have not decided what the path is for me after my junior year is over, but I hope to step up in the jumper ring and compete in the FEI and high-level jumper ring!
3 things you can always find with you at horse shows
Three things you will always find with me at the horse show would be my backpack, my dog (Toby) and a Celsius!
Favorite thing to do outside of riding?
My favorite this to do outside of riding is reading
Sweet or Savory?
One show that is on your dream horse show list?
One show on my dream horse show list would be Dinard
Biggest pet peeve in riding?
My biggest pet peeve are the no stirrup lessons! But it has definitely helped me tremendously in the eq ring so I guess it's not so bad!