April 18, 2023
In a quiet town 27 miles northwest of our headquarters in Dedham, Massachusetts sits Bear Spot Farm & Foundation. Ran by EquiFit athletes, Hope Cooper & Jane Karol, Bear Spot Farm is cultivating the next generation of Grand Prix dressage horses & riders. One of which is Gabriel Epstein.
This month, we caught up with Gabriel to discuss how his mom inspired his start in the sport & his goals for the year competing in the FEI Young Rider divisions. To keep up with Gabriel & his journey to make the European tour team, follow him on Instagram @gab_epstein.
Q: Introduce yourself to the EquiFit audience.
A:Hello, my name is Gabriel Epstein. I am a dressage rider from Boston, Massachusetts and I train with Hope Cooper and Jane Karol. I am currently competing in the FEI Young Rider division.
Q: How did you get started in riding?
A:Initially I began going to the barn with my mom. Later on when she bought her first horse, I started taking weekly lessons at Sage Farm where my mom was keeping her horse. After a couple of years I decided to get more serious and started doing some schooling shows. It wasn’t until about three years ago when I started competing at recognized shows.
Q: What would you say has been the most pivotal moment of your riding career so far?
A: The most pivotal part of my career so far would have to be going to the North American Youth Championships on the Region 8 team. This opportunity provided me with a unique experience because it made me understand a sense of camaraderie between riders in a seemingly individual sport. It was truly amazing to see how a team built up of near strangers could assist one another at such an important event.
Q: What are your short term and long term goals for the sport?
A: My short term goals for this season are to qualify for North Americans again but in the Young Rider division with both of my fantastic horses. Unfortunately I can only bring one to Michigan but it would still be a badge of honor for me to qualify both. My long term goals are to continue with Young Riders and eventually make the European tour team and in the following years make the U25 European team as well.
Q: Tell us about a horse that has made a lasting impact personally and/or professionally.
A: I have a couple of horses that I give loads of credit to for helping me become a better rider. The horse I took to NAYC – Bandito – would have to be the one that has made the biggest impact on me. When we got Bandito in 2021 from a friend of a friend in France, he allotted me the opportunity to be able to go to Germany for my summer vacation and train harder than I ever have before.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A:The best advice I have to give to someone just starting out would be to be honest and listen to what people have to say because the more information you take in, the better rider you will be. Another fantastic piece of advice I have is to just meet as many people as you possibly can, whether they are people your age, younger, adult amateurs, open riders, sponsors, judges, or show officials.
Q: What are your top three Horse Show Essentials?
1. The pants I use to cover my white show breeches.
3. This isn’t something I bring to shows, but my go to horse show food is a grilled cheese sandwich.
Q: What is your favorite, go-to EquiFit product?
A: My favorite and definite go to product would have to be the Essential Bell Boots because I love the amount of protection it offers for my horses' hooves.
Photos courtesy of Gabriel Epstein, Josie Dechaine & Emma Claire Stevens.