The Next Chapter
Woah. My name is Natalie Gannett and I am absolutely thrilled to take over the reins for Breeches and Sweats. As Liv’s younger sister, I have watched her grow and develop this blog from the bottom up: motivated solely by the pure love for the sport, for the horses, and for the viewers. Liv is one of my biggest role models in life, and I am ecstatic to get to follow in her footsteps and continue to work on this incredible platform. I can say with full honesty that taking up this role is as nerve-racking as it is exciting. Liv has left some big shoes to fill, but I am so lucky to have her help managing in all aspects while she continues her success in her first year of college. I am eternally grateful to her for trusting me and giving me this opportunity, and I cannot wait to begin my journey with Breeches and Sweats.
So, let’s officially start this. Hi, my name is Natalie Gannett. I am a 14 year old equestrian, competing up and down the east coast. I’ve been riding for almost ten years, following along with my sister as we discovered what would turn out to be our biggest passions at a small, Welsh pony barn. From as young as I can remember, I’ve been utterly obsessed with this sport. It took me until I was around 7 years old to really know and understand my love for horses, and ever since then it has grown into a full blown lifestyle.
Photo by Norah McCutcheon Photography
In 2018, at 9 years old, I was paired with my first horse, Leo. If you’ve followed Liv long enough, you would know that Leo was originally her lease horse. Together those two accomplished so much, and I
think Liv can agree with me that Leo was really the horse that changed us as riders. Leo, a 16.3 horse coming off of a competitive 3ft-3’3 equitation job, spent a little over a year teaching me the basics of becoming not only a good rider, but a good horsewoman. Riding Leo taught me the fundamentals: How to find a distance, how to sit in the tack, and how to (and not to) use your leg. He took me around my first “equitation” classes in short stirrup, which I believe is what truly gave me not only the horse show bug, but the equitation bug. I could talk about this saint of a horse for sentences upon sentences, but the real reason I’m sharing this is to explain where this passion comes from. Without horses like him, my career and experience in this sport isn’t the same. It's animals like Leo that show you what the sport is all about.
Flash forward to 2020, Covid year, where I became the luckiest girl in the world to be able to own my first horse. He needs no introduction of his own, as he is one of the most iconic and perfect horses to ever touch this earth. Floyd. I think it's fair to say I was not confident in what I was doing when I first got Floyd. My first couple months with Floyd were my “awkward” stage in riding. Floyd picked up where Leo had stopped and continued to guide me as a rider, and as a person. Floyd is one of the most honest, willing horses I have ever met. If you know Floyd, you know he comes across as a grumpy, old man, but behind the doors of his stall, he lets a small, annoying little girl cuddle, hug, and love him in every way possible. Like Leo, Floyd gave me so many firsts, first 2'6” class, first mini medal, first derby… first fall on the derby field… He was really the first horse to give me a taste of my future in this sport. Floyd helped improve my riding immensely, to the point where I could confidently lay down rounds no matter the ring, place, time, etc. Unfortunately, our time together was cut short, as Floyd suffered a career ending injury. While he is an older horse, I was absolutely devastated to hear this news, as any rider would be. But, after years of being the best teacher to me, and so many others before me, I was so happy to give this horse the life he deserves. Floyd is now retired, living his best life in South Carolina. He spends most days in his field, and others are spent in his indoor-outdoor stall (we call it his walk-out patio). I love my Bear more than anything, and am so lucky to get to call him mine.
The year after retiring Floyd was not the easiest, but also continued to develop me as a rider and person. I was lucky enough to lease my first jumper, Campari, and steal my sister's boy, who also needs no introduction (especially here), Lux, to qualify for some finals. I was given the opportunity to show at my first real equitation final, New England Finals with a leased horse. Xander took me around one of the harder tracks I had seen in the show ring, and even helped me to pin 10th in the challenge cup. From then on, my family and I were puzzled with what to do. Floyd’s retirement was sudden, and left us in a position where we needed to either figure out a more long-term lease, or potentially buy a horse. Lux had headed down to Wellington already for our first Winter Equestrian Festival experience, which spoiler alert, was the greatest thing I've ever had the chance to do. It was truly special because of one particular horse.
I’ve tried to build suspense up to this moment, because I think he deserves it. Flayders joined the family in the beginning of 2023, and has fully stolen my heart since. Flay is a 8 y/o Latvian Warmblood, who was imported in the summer of 2022. While we had originally planned to find a seasoned, “Lux” type horse, who had experience in the equitation ranks, we ended up with a recently imported, green horse, who had never stepped foot in the equitation ring. Taking a chance on Flay was the greatest decision we’ve ever made, as he blew away every expectation we had ever set for him. Flayders started his eq/hunter career by scoring an 82 in his first equitation class EVER, and winning his first hunter class. I have truly no words to describe what it was like to ride and develop him this winter. He is one of the smartest and kindest horses I have ever had the chance to own, let alone ride, and to top it off, one of the sweetest horses I had ever met.
Many of you probably already know this, but less than two weeks after Flayders arrived home from Florida, as we started preparing for what seemed to be another unforgettable stretch of showing, Flay had a severe case of colic, where he was rushed to the Tufts Hospital for Large Animals. He underwent extensive emergency surgery. We were told his chances of making it through surgery were 50/50. I waited anxiously not knowing if he was even going to survive, let alone even work again. Flay fought for
every milestone and hurdle past surgery and was able to leave the hospital ten days later. Fast forward to 4 months of grueling stall rest, and 4 months of longing to be back with my boy, he has started under saddle work. He again, has blown away any goal we set for him and I cannot believe I get to be lucky enough to continue to work with this incredible animal. He has been rehabbing with Krystina Carlton at Gramercy Farm, who I couldn’t be more grateful for. She has given Flay the most peaceful, safe, and secure rehab, and has been the one to start him undersaddle. I couldn’t be more excited to get back in the saddle with Flay, hopefully in the next few weeks. While our situation is not favorable, I will forever be one of the lucky ones. We were so close to losing him, and I am forever indebted to those who have supported him through his process so far.
Now, present day! I was extremely lucky to fall into the perfect situation at Grazing Fields Farm after Flay’s injury. Igazi, or Noodle, had recently joined their program as a sales horse a little before I joined GFF, and from the first ride, it was an instant match. This summer, and through finals season, I have been able to lease Noodle, which has been such an incredible experience. With this being Noodle's first time trying the equitation, he has had top ribbons at multiple venues, which led me to qualify for both of our first National Horse Show, a goal I didn’t believe was possible this year. Noodle and I have currently been hard at work gearing up for finals, with the wonderful training and expertise from Grazing Fields. This summer has been so rewarding, and I am so excited to see what Noodle and I can accomplish this fall.
A little more about me out of the saddle. I currently attend an in-person school, as well as play club hockey. These two, plus riding is not an easy juggle, but I make it work the best I can. I have some of the best support systems behind me, like my coaches, trainers, teachers, parents and siblings who push me to try my best, and give me the opportunities to be able to make this all work.
I care a lot about fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Like Liv, I believe that we as riders need to train ourselves as if we played any other sport. I try to workout whenever I can, whether it's before school, after practice, or on the weekends. I love HIIT workouts, Peloton classes and running, and just really any type of physical activity that makes my body feel good. I also try to fuel my body the best I can. I am a pescatarian, which forces me to be conscious of my protein intake, and make sure I am training and eating like the athlete I strive to be.
I am so excited to share how I balance school, hockey, and riding, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mental and physical. This sport is not easy on the body, heart, or brain. We put so much of ourselves into it, and it’s not talked enough about how tough it can be to handle it all. My goal as I start out this next chapter with Breeches and Sweats is to share my experiences as a young equestrian who’s finding her way in life through the love of horses.