Jodie Kidd, who is the host of "CNN Equestrian", was in Las Vegas last week for the FEI World Cup. She sat down with Hannah Mitchell, a novice equestrian rider and daughter of Times assistant sports editor Houston Mitchell, to answer a few questions.
How did you get involved in equestrian and what do you love most about the sport?
My family is very big into horses. My father was on the British team for show jumping and my brother represented Great Britain in polo. My sister also represented Great Britain in dressage. My grandmother used to breed horses, so we are from a long line of horse lovers. I grew up on a farm in the British countryside, and it was a breeding farm, so my love for horses came from there. When I was 9 I got my first pony and fell in love with show jumping. I wanted to be an international show jumper and follow in my dad's footsteps, but when I was 14 I got spotted modeling. I had just gone from ponies to horses and I had just got my first horse and I needed money for a horse trailer. So I thought I would make some money modeling and I could buy my first horse trailer. When I was 15, I joined OMG models, and I modeled non-stop for the next 15 years. So I had to give up my riding career, but then was very lucky to have a wonderful, successful career in modeling. So with my knowledge of being a rider, I was able to start hosting CNN Equestrian, which is wonderful.
Equestrian isn't as popular in the U.S. as in Europe. Why do you think that is and what can be done to make it more popular here?
I think in Europe, you have amazing breeding. It's all about the horse and the bloodlines and you have very old history of breeding in Holland, Denmark, Britain and France. They all have breeders who have amazing horses. I thinkl that has a lot to do with it, that a lot of the good jumpers and dressage horses have European bloodlines. I think it's only go up, especially after having the World Cup in Vegas. It has brought a lot more attention to it and the crowds seem to love it.
You've been a model, actress, producer, raced cars, and have done nearly everything it seems. Is there anything you haven't done and hope to do?
I would really have loved to do my true love, which is to represent Britain in show jumping. I don't think that will ever happen, but it's one thing I do look back and really miss. Especially watching all my friends jump. I haven't jumped since I was 14. As part of the show I went and did a master class with an international rider called Shane Breen in England. He put me on the most amazing horse. I was only jumping tiny little fences, but to jump was so much fine. I really loved it. So I thought 'I've really got to get a horse now and get back into it.'
What advice would you give young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
It all depends what part! I've done so many different things. For modeling, it is really important to get a good agent. A lot of girls will go to an agency and they will say 'This isn't right." And then they will go to another one, and another one, and another one. I would always advise to go to one of the top four or five agencies and really listen to them. In motor racing and equestrian, it is pretty tough being a woman. It's changing, but you have to be really strong and keep going with your goals. Be nice to everyone on your way up because you will meet them on your way back down. I just follow my heart a lot. If I really love something I will put 150 million percent into it and focus on working hard, being polite and being on time.