This interview has been trotting in my head for a while now. Emilie Veillette is probably one of the most influential riders in Quebec. She looks like she is in control 100% of the time and she rides horses that are seriously dreamy. I spoke with her before Christmas about this collaboration, but I was waiting for her to come back from the USA so I could talk to her face-to-face. Now that he resides in the states to follow her dreams (and I fully understand why) we had to do an interview via e-mail. Her answers were moving and inspiring despite the distance between the two of us. People who follow their dreams are a true source of inspiration for me. I was lucky to interview different girls with drive and determination and it is clear that Emilie sticks to those standards! 😉
Sophie: Of all the trainers you rode with, which are the most influential ones?
Emilie: A lot of trainers influenced my career. I rode with pretty much all the bests in the world. Despite all the trainers that crossed my path, I have to say that my parents are still in the top riders that influenced me as a trainer. Then, Jolene Montgomery played a huge role in my personal and professional life. Then, I have to say that Pierre-Luc Phaneuf is the person whom really showed me how to get a horse “broke.”
Sophie: What is the very best advice you received concerning your career as a horse trainer in general?
Emilie: My mother has always been a pro to give me some advice. This being said, there is always one sentence that sticks in my head “Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to accomplish great things” this sentence comes from Jolene Montgomery.
Sophie: Why did you decide to stay in the United States?
Emilie: # 1; you have to compete with the best to be the best. I have hopes and dreams that are only reachable in the US. I like the mentality here. It is hard to be away from my family, but my biggest fear in life is to choose the comfortable option and to have regrets. When I visualize my goals, they seem unobtainable in Quebec, and the desire to reach my goals is greater than the desire for a comfortable life.
Sophie: it is known that horses we have the chance to ride form us into the riders we become. We can’t speak of Emilie without speaking of Marley. Do you believe that he helped you become the trainer you are today?
Emilie: It is certain that my Marley is a great part of who I am today. I really believe that this horse was put on my path for a reason. I think that he came into my life to bring me to a level that I never believed I could reach. He helped me fulfill many dreams and he truly was my best friend. I know that this horse was a gift from above and I will be forever grateful.
Sophie: According to you, what should be part of every trainer’s training plan?
Emilie: I believe that anyone (trainer, jockey, rodeo, jackpot…) the most important is to know your horse, his personality, and to be sure that he is happy and comfortable. You need to respect his style and temperament. It is important to know our limits when it comes to knowledge, and not to be afraid to ask for help from someone more qualified. I also think that putting a certain trust in our horse is a good start. I think that this is to key for making dreams more obtainable that we believe them to be. For me, knowing the qualities and the weaknesses of my horse also helps. Lastly, to be conscientious of my horse and his biomechanical aspect helps me to move every part of his body (together and on their own).
Sophie: What is your proudest moment?
Emilie: My proudest moment is certainly in 2011 when Marley and I won “reserve world champion” in the BFA JUVENILES. Marley had just accomplished the impossible in one of the most difficult moments of my life. At that place in time, my mother and I had no house, no truck, no trailer, and certainly no money. I remember seeing my mother counting her pennies and not having enough for a coffee because all her money was in Marley and I. Just before we left for the BFAs the words of good luck we got were more like “you are dreaming in color”. I don’t think that the people’s intentions were to be mean. I simply believe that they could not believe something that had never been done before. People were saying that my horse was not fast enough. Someone made us an offer to make him into a roping horse!
Once we got there, Marley was our last chance. If he failed, my short career was over. Despite all of the adversity, Marley decided to prove that he was enough and that all dreams can come true even if it seems unreal.
Sophie: What are the maneuvers that a horse needs to know before starting on the barrel pattern?
Emilie: Before putting my horses in the pattern I want to make sure that I can control every part of my horses’ bodies individually and simultaneously. I like a good “whoa” and “back” on my horses. They need to be light on the front end and to be able to use their back end. It might sound stupid but you need to make sure that your horses can manage straight lines and even circles (without a lot of help). A barrel run is 3 circles and four lines but there are still too many horses who don’t know how to walk a straight line without help. On my part, I can’t work with a horse that is not extremely broke. This makes my horses autonomous. At the end of their training, they need to be able to make a run with only a little guidance.
Sophie: Everyone knows that your mother is also in the barrel racing world, that she follows you and supports you. Do you think that she actively helped you in your climb in the industry?
Emilie: When I was younger, my mother was always getting me involved in her crazy projects (like the BFAs). Now, the roles have changed and I am the one getting her involved in my crazy projects. Sometimes I am under the impression that she can see in the future. Everything she likes in the barrel racing industry becomes popular 5 to 10 years after. My father also influenced my career a lot in the last years. I am well aware that I can always count on them and on their knowledge of the horse industry to help me.
Thank you Emilie to have agreed to this project! I hope that you liked this article. I hope that reading about all these riders awakens a certain flame in you that will motivate you in your performances to come. I believe that every horse and every rider has a potential to fulfill and I hope that the desire to reach this potential is what gets you up in the morning to ride and work on yourselves. For those of you, like Emilie, that work so hard every day to fulfill this potential, life pushes you in the right direction to reach all of your dreams. It is nice to see that riders we used to meet on our show grounds are not meeting world champions on theirs. It is even nicer to see that these riders, despite their success, they still take the time to keep in touch with their “little” Quebec.
Good luck in all of your projects Emilie and keep on proving to the rest of the world that Quebecers can make it in the big game!
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