EASY RIDER: BRIANNE GOUTAL
I met Brianne through Jodie and Greg and instantly loved her -- she was so damn calm, cool and collected and when I found out she was also a badas$ rider, I essentially made her be friends with me and asked that she teach me to ride. And thats our story.
Born and raised New Yorker!
Professional show jumper and show jumping trainer
How did your love of horses begin? And what is it about them you love so much?
When I was a kid we had a house in Watermill, NY. From a young age I always loved animals and nature. Apparent of my desire to play with animals, my parents enrolled me in pony camp during the summer. It was, what I would call a domino effect and basically they couldn't stop me. Immediately all I wanted to do was ride and hang around the barn all day. In fact, an instant "barn rat," I insisted on joining both the morning and afternoon sessions on every available day. I think what I was drawn to then and continue to be now is the base nature of horses. The horse is a very particular animal. They're strong but gentle and in general, they reciprocate your actions. They can be therapeutic, they can provide the adrenaline rush athletes crave, and they can simply be companions.
The mental side of riding...
What do you do both physically and mentally to prepare for an event?
I'm the first to admit that if you compare the horse to his rider, the horse is the real athlete between the two. Most of my physical conditioning involves conditioning them. I ride between three to eight horses per day, six days a week. We do not jump everyday but we do what can best be described as cross training. When a tennis player or a football player trains there are specific daily exercises which are repetitive and of course special sessions as well. For horses, this concept is the same. Obviously, as the rider, I have to make the horse go through the specific motions and exercises and that takes a lot of core, arm, and leg strength so I always try to be aware of how my body feels and where I feel needs more or less attention. The mental aspect is, in my opinion, hands down the most important and challenging aspect of any sport. What is made further complicated by show jumping is that you have another brain to manage. Like people, all horses have different personalities and a large part of my job is to get my horse in the right mind frame to compete at his best. I am naturally a very calm person which has helped me a lot in my career. I always feel that I can spend extra attention on where my horse's mind is because I am able to easily be calm and thus focused.
Do your students need mental coaching?
Similar to mentally preparing my horses, my job is also to make sure my students are on the right mental plane. I have to recognize what makes the rider tick. Do I need to pump him/her up or calm him/her down? Does he/she get nervous? Is she scared? Does he/she need to focus more? These are typical questions I address on a daily competitive basis.
How to choose your horse...
How did you find your horse and how did you know your horse was the one?
A huge part of what I do is buying and selling horses. I go through hundreds of videos each month searching for the right horses for myself and for my students. Overtime you develop a sensitivity to what you need or want from a horse. Everyone has different taste and everyone has a different opinion on what makes a good horse a good horse. In my opinion, the three most important attributes are balance, style, and carefulness. Does the horse naturally take off and land from the jump with good equilibrium, is his technique classic, and does how hard does he try not to hit the jumps? Of course, its not as simple as that though because you have to factor in the rider component too. For example, do I need a very comforting horse for a timid rider, do I need an easy horse for a novice rider, or do I need a strong horse for a weak rider? I know almost immediately when I watch the horse and rider together if they jive. Its kind of like going to test drive a bunch of different kinds of cars and finally finding the one you feel meets your needs and standards.
On being Best in Class...
What do you think makes you such an incredible rider?
I'm not sure I am an incredible rider but what I do know is that I'm a compassionate one. My belief is that if horses are happy and feel safe with their rider, their performance improves. You know the saying, "happy cows make good milk?" You can't force a 1500 pound animal to do what you want, you have to find a way to ask! When the horse wants to perform for you, you've hit the jackpot.
You are the most decorated junior rider in the US history, how did you manage to get it done?
I had amazing trainers and an amazing support system. My family has always been completely behind me and there is nothing more important than feeling confident in the team behind you. Show Jumping is technically an individual sport but the team behind each horse and rider is immense. It takes a village and I have always had a great village!
How would you describe the horseback riding culture?
A lot of travel, a lot of work, and a lot of fun. We spend very long hours doing something that is hard but that we love. We brave the elements on a daily basis and our hours are absurd! But the love of horses and of the sport seems to make every day an new and exciting.
You were featured in a TV series on Animal Planet... would you ever sign up for a TV show? What are your thoughts on reality TV?
That series was something I fell into by chance! It is completely the opposite of my personality to do reality tv, or any tv for that matter! However, it was a great experience because the film crew I worked with was amazing. Looking back on it, I am glad I did it but I don't think you could convince me to do it again today.
If you didn't pursue riding as a career what would you have done?
Either something with food or something with marine life and conservation. Maybe I would own restaurants; my father is a restauranteur and I love cooking. Food and travel are super important to me. I grew up in a very food centric household and as my husband says, my life revolves around meal planning! I'm also obsessed with ocean life and exploration. I would love to go on reef preservation missions and dive with marine animals all day!
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Relaxed, loyal, adventurous.
What do you love most about riding and horses?
I love the interaction with the animal and how perseverance always pays off.
On Love and Family...
How did you meet your husband and when did you know he was the one?
We met in Wellington, FL many years ago at the horse show. He moved from France to the US in 2005 for college and because he used to ride competitively. We have been friends for what seems like forever. I can't say there was a specific moment when I said, "he's the one," I just never had any doubts.
What do you love most about him and your relationship?
I love that we always seem to be on the same page and I love the effortless compatibility we've always shared. I think we are very lucky with how well we balance each other out. I feel so much support from him of my career and the crazy schedule it forces on our life. Most recently, though, I love the type of father he is to our daughter, Cléa.
Where to eat and drink in New York...
Where are your go-to spots for food and drink?
Being an Upper East Side kid, my two go-to places are Mezzaluna and Sushi Seki. Got to have the staples! I also frequent Chinatown (more often than I should admit). My favorite bar in NYC is Attaboy on Eldridge St. I don't think you can find better drinks anywhere!
Her sources of inspiration and latest obsessions...
What's the last amazing book you read and what was your takeaway?
Hywel Williams's, "Great Speeches of Our Time." I loved it and suggest everyone read it! I was impressed with the relevancy of speeches from the 1940s and the scope of information you can pull from a great speech.
If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would it be and why?
Jules Verne or Jacques Cousteau. I would love to have access to such minds and adventurers. I have so many questions!
Words you live by:
Most of the time the only thing stopping you from achieving a goal is yourself.
Something most people don't know about you:
I hate eggs! I eat pretty much anything and everything unusual, gross, or strange but the thought of a sunny side up egg makes me gag!
Your latest obsession:
Baby clothes, it's officially a problem.
Your favorite instagrammer(s):
NatGeo (National Geographic), HuffPost, DiscoverSharks, Dannijo, NYTFood (New York Times Food)
Favorite band or song on repeat:
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon album.
Your go-to DANNIJO piece and how you style it:
Obsessed with the Quintana bracelet. Black Jeans and a button down shirt with rolled up sleeves and three or even four Quintana's layered.