Jack Hardin Towell, who is in 21st place after Round I of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping competition in Las Vegas, sat down beforehand with Hannah Mitchell, a novice equestrian rider and daughter of Times assistant sports editor Houston Mitchell, to answer a few questions about riding.
Do you remember your first horse?
Towell: I had a mare whose name was Kisses, which meant all my friends would make fun of me. She was very safe and really taught me a lot, so that got me started.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as a rider?
In the past year I have really come a long way. I won a big class in Miami a couple of weeks ago and some grand prix events in Florida, but I like to think my greatest accomplishments are on the horizon. I like to look forward and get better and hopefully win some big events in the next couple of years.
Tell us about your horse, Lucifer.
Lucifer is very funny. He is a little bit of a handful and acts a little bit like a baby. He's always trying to bite me and push me around. He's very animated in the ring and has a good time. He lands and bucks after the jump and he really bucks after the last jump. He loves what he is doing and is one of the first horses I have ever ridden who has a drive to win as much as I do.
Who has been the most influential in your riding career?
My father got me started in it and has been a big supporter. My mother. And a lady named Missy Clark trained me when I was younger and she really helped me. More recently a man named Eddie Macken has taught me a lot about everything. He is very calm and he has a lot of wisdom, so he has really helped me a lot.
What advice do you have for young boys or girls who want to become jumpers?
Once you get started, keep at it. It's not something that happens overnight. Put in a lot of practice. Of course, it's not like a lot of other sports. You also need the right horse to compete at the top level. They are few and far between, but you just keep looking. The main thing you have to do is believe. Believe in yourself and your horse.
Is it difficult to have friends when you travel the world like you do?
It is a little bit. A lot of my friends are into show jumping, so we kind of have the same lifestyle where we won't see each other for a couple of months. I've been away from home for many years, but I have my sister's husband and his friends that when I do go home, they are there for me as well.