When I first came to Pepper Hill Farm, I was intimidated. I didn’t know anyone besides Eric Griedl, my former trainer at Knollwood Farms. I left everything behind at Knollwood: friends, trainers, and the horses I loved.
Erica was Eric’s wife and I had never met her before that first night. She was welcoming and I knew she wanted me to succeed.
The first two years I spent at Pepper Hill Farm I was trained by Eric and Erica would jump in here and there. However, one thing she said to me last year during my show season repeats over in my head.
She said, “Allie, you look like a piece of cardboard. Now, you have two minutes to pull your head out of your ass because it’s not a hat.”
I had never had someone tell it to me so straight before—my face flustered and got bright red. After that, I focused and made sure to do everything correctly.
I ended up coming out of that ring with a blue ribbon and a smirk from Erica. We both knew that I was a longshot to win that class, especially with the warmups I had.
She had told my mother, “I wasn’t sure about that class because warmups before were BAD.”
That day made me realize I am able to do anything with discipline and focus.
In the last year, Erica and I got closer, which helps the process go smoother because we are a team. She tells me when I look like crap and I have learned to take it in and use it to improve. Before I would have broken down and it would have made me do worse. However, I was able to handle it because I knew that if she were to be nice about it, she wasn't going to get me anywhere.
Not only is Erica my trainer, she is also a wife, a role model to many, and most importantly like my second mother. She pushes me to be the best I can be in a way that no one has ever done before. She’s tough, thorough, and tactful. She truly cares about me not only as a rider but as a person as a whole.
I am gracious that I am able to have such a dedicated, devoted, and diligent person in my life. I have learned so much from her in the past three years and can only hope to be like her one day. That phrase sticks with me every time I get on a horse and I use it to help me focus on what I’m doing. If it weren’t for Erica, I wouldn’t be as dedicated to the sport and wouldn’t be near the talent that I have to this day.