UMass equestrian champion shares secrets of success

By Shelby Ashline

Ben Ross Photography/Courtesy of Augusta Lord
(Ben Ross Photography/Courtesy of Augusta Lord)

To the outside world, Augusta Lord seems to ride atop a dancing grey horse. A senior at the University of Massachusetts, Lord balances school, two jobs and competing in dressage, a type of horseback riding that involves the horse performing elegant movements.

Just last Sunday, Lord could be seen competing at Xenophon Farm, an equestrian facility in Montague. Together with her horse Solstice, more affectionately called Grey because of his color, she took home the title of reserve champion, earning the second highest number of points amongst her competitors.

However, Lord’s involvement in dressage stretches much farther than attending local shows. She travels as far as three hours away to compete on a national level through the United States Dressage Federation and rides the descendant of an international dressage champion.

Outside of her dressage success, Lord is a math major with a concentration in actuarial science while also pursuing a minor in education. After graduation in May 2016, she intends to have a career as an actuary, an insurance employee who compiles and analyzes statistics and uses them to calculate insurance risks and premiums.

Although horseback riding and actuarial science seem unrelated, Lord said that she even chose her major with horses in mind.

“I felt that it was more worthwhile for me to get a degree in something I could really make money in so that I would have the funds to be able to compete and train, because it’s expensive,” she said. “I can always ride, and I never wanted to be in a position where I wasn’t able to give my horses 100 percent of what they needed.”

In addition, Lord feels her education minor will be useful in the future, when she hopes to coach other dressage riders. Her college life is in fact carefully crafted in order to help her fuel her passion for horses.

This extends to work as well. In order to fund the hobby, Lord works two jobs. She spends roughly 15 hours per week working as a bartender at UPub and as a peer adviser for the math and statistics departments. Combined with trying to get to the barn five times per week and taking four classes, Lord maintains a very busy lifestyle.

“It’s a difficult balancing act, kind of, but I like it and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said. “I’m happiest when I have horse time … so in my opinion there’s really no other way to do it.”

Lord manages to pay for the upkeep of her horse without parental help, while also funding her trips to shows, which can cost upwards of $1,000 between hotel fees, gas and entry fees. Lord is thankful to have sponsors who provide her with riding apparel and dietary supplements for her horse.

“I just feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude because I’ve done this on a really, really minimal budget,” she said. “It’s required a lot of people to have faith in me and kind of believe in me.”

Because so many people have contributed to her success, including her coach, Brenna Kucinski, and the owners who have allowed her to compete with their horses, Lord aims to give back to other young riders who are not able to afford horses. For example, she has donated riding equipment to Dressage4Kids, a non-profit organization that provides educational and competitive opportunities for young riders.

Lord’s highest achievement during her time competing has been attaining a bronze medal for consistently competing and scoring high in her level. The year-end award was given on a national scale through the USDF.

Lord continues to have high hopes for the future, saying that her personal goal is to compete at the international Grand Prix level before she turns 25. Having come as far as she has, Lord believes that anything is possible with the right mindset.

“There are always going to be people who tell you you’re not good enough,” Lord said. “If you ever lose faith in yourself and believe you’re not good enough at something, you’ve lost all your chances.”

 

Shelby Ashline can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @shelby_ashline.