August 31, 2023
Leah Drew is a seventeen-year-old equestrian based out of Concord, MA just under thirty miles away from our headquarters. We were introduced to Leah through our #TeamEquiFit athlete, Hope Cooper who trains out of Bear Spot Farm. Leah, who has been riding since she was just five-years-old, is currently partnered with Jazz (Jazz Beat) & Dezi (Damons Davian) & competes in the FEI Dressage Junior & Young Rider levels. You may even see glimpses of Dezi on our socials & website; modeling our Essential Dressage Square Pad & Essential Polo Wraps in Green.
This month, we caught up with Leah to discuss her start in the sport, her goals to represent the United States internationally & her recent experiences competing at the North American Youth Championship & the Festival of Champions. To keep up with Leah, follow @leahdrewdressage on Instagram.
Q: Introduce yourself to the EquiFit audience.
A: My name is Leah Drew, I am a 17 year old dressage rider based at Bear Spot Farm in Concord Massachusetts. I compete at the FEI Junior and Young Rider levels. I compete and train on two horses: Jazz Beat (Jazz), Berryfield LLC’s 13 year old Hanoverian gelding with whom I have been partnered with for 2 years, and Damons Davian (Dezi), Berryfield LLC’s 12 year old Westphalian gelding, with whom I have been partnered with since the fall of 2022.
Q: How did you get started in riding?
A: I started riding at age 5 on my grandmother’s horse farm in Massachusetts. I did a little bit of everything as a kid, and first showed at age 7. By age 8, I had decided I wanted to do dressage, and did my first intro-level shows that year.
Q: What would you say has been the most pivotal moment of your riding career so far?
A: The most standout moment of my riding career so far has been the 2023 Festival of Champions (national championship). I was riding two horses in the junior division, and placed third and fifth overall. With Festival being just two weeks after the North American Youth Championships, we had decided not to travel back home between the two shows. Because of this, Dezi and I had been on the road for three weeks, while I had not ridden Jazz since before we left. Despite all of this, and the extreme heat, both boys tried super hard and I was blown away by their results.
Q: What are your short term and long term goals for the sport?
A: My short term goals with Jazz are to start learning the Prix St. George movements and move up to the young riders level for the 2024 season, as 2023 is my last year as an FEI junior.
My short term goals with Dezi are to continue building our partnership and start showing at the young riders level. In the winter of 2023, we showed a few young rider tests before switching to the FEI juniors for qualifying, so our goal is to build upon that experience and qualify for the 2024 North American Youth Championships and Festival of Champions.
Long term, my goals are to represent to US overseas on both youth and senior teams, as well as at championships, with the ultimate goal being the Olympics. In addition, I plan on becoming a trainer, with a barn full of horses from babies to grand prix, and several students.
Q: Tell us about a pony that has made a lasting impact on you personally.
A: A horse that made a lasting impact on me is Jazz. He was bought as a 5 year old for my first trainer, and he is a very large, energetic and eye-catching horse. During the pandemic, I was able to sit on him a few times, and I thought he was super cool, but never thought that he would be my horse. I continued sporadically riding him through 2021 while primarily focusing on my mare, until she got injured that summer. The injury was about a week before a show that both my mare and I, as well as Jazz and my trainer, were entered in, so once it was clear my mare couldn’t compete, my trainer allowed me to ride Jazz at that show. We connected so well that we arranged for Jazz to become my full-time horse, and soon after, we moved to Bear Spot to train with Jane Karol and Hope Cooper. He has taught me so much about riding, patience, determination, and horsemanship, as he is such a quirky, hot horse with a big personality and lots of opinions. Riding him gives the most incredible feeling, as he is one of those horses that makes everyone sit up and pay attention as we go by. My favorite things to do with him is ride without a saddle, and show our freestyle, which is entirely Led Zeppelin music and perfect for him.
Q: If we looked inside your EquiFit Ringside Backpack, what would we see there?
A:What’s inside my EquiFit Ringside Backpack varies each day, as I bring it everywhere with me, but here are a few things I always keep with me: a phone charger, my water bottle, a notebook and some pens, a granola bar, and my lucky curb chain. This curb chain came from the bridle of my first pony, a Dales pony named Silas. He was my heart horse, and I loved him so much. I bring it with me because it makes me feel like he’s always by my side, and to remind me where it all started.
Q: If you had to swap disciplines, what style of riding would you move towards?
A:I would want to be an eventer, because I would still be able to enjoy the precision and elegance of dressage, but cross country and stadium sections would definitely fuel my risk-taking, thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie side.
Q: What is your favorite, go-to EquiFit product?
A: My go-to EquiFit product is definitely the SilentFit Ear Bonnet. It fits super well and provides excellent soundproofing, which is so important with both horses, who are quite hot and easily distracted by noise and crowds.
Photos courtesy of EquiFit, Leah Drew & Josie Dechaine.