The flying American
He has been known in America for a decade; he arrived in Europe only in 2011, but it did not take long to realize that Kent Farrington would become a big winner.
- #olimpic games
Kent Farrington started to ride horses at age 8, in Chicago, certainly not a city famous for equestrian activities! In fact, in the stable where this rider had his first contacts with horses, carriage horses were the only ones available.
"I don't know how I got the idea to try - said Kent. I remember seeing an old photo of my mother riding a pony. I started with one class per week. Then, while I was growing up, I was a jockey for a while. I used to race with ponies, but my parents disagreed with it. They told me it was too dangerous. Then, since I liked to jump, I changed discipline. At 13, I had already decided I wanted to become a professional rider".
The first major turning point in his life, was meeting George Morris when he was only 17 years old. "My instructor took me to one of his stages and, when it was over, George Morris in person came looking for me and told me I was good. He explains: I started working with horses immediately after school. I didn't know what I was getting into, or what I had to do to succeed. I just knew I wanted to do it! My father, who is the point of reference in my life, did not know anything about horses or the environment of equestrian sports, but he believed in me and supported my choice!".
Kent had a distinguished youth career. In 1998 and 1999 he won the national finals of the Equitation tournaments and, still in 1999, he won the gold medal in the Young Riders Championship in North America. In the early years as a professional rider, he worked for Tim Grubb and for Leslie Howard, trying to learn as much as possible, and then he became self-employed. "I made competitions, sold and bought horses, and taught - he remembers; it was not easy and it took me so long and so much effort, and so many times I lost heart, but I have always gone forward".
In 2004, Kent and Madison, his first important mare, won their first Grand Prix, in Saugersties, New York. The following year he took part in the World Cup in Washington, participating in a race that was the turning point of his career. Soon after came the stallion Up Chiqui, a rounder horse with whom the American rider took part in the Nations Cups, in CSIO5* and high speed competitions, ranking well in both. And then came Uceko, who allowed the real breakthrough. "A bit at a time - the rider says - things started to turn in the right direction. Important horses arrived and I found myself competing at a high level."
Today Kent has horses capable of winning the most prestigious Grand Prixes: Uceko, Voyeur, Blue Angel, Willow, Woami, and Gazelle ter Elzen. "I have owners and sponsors who support me at best and I consider myself very lucky for this," said Kent. The main characteristic, and very important quality, of all of Farrington's horses is definitely the speed. In fact, the American rider is feared by his opponents in the time competitions and in the jump off, where he manages to stop the clock and achieve 'record' times.
"Voyeur is the most difficult of my horses - he explains. He has a strange character. He is very strong, but at the same time very sensitive, and you definitely cannot oppose his strength with strength. You must ride him with your head and not with your hands, otherwise it becomes impossible to communicate with him."
Voyeur came from Leon Thjissen's stables in 2012 and, after several months spent knowing each other and building the relationship, Kent began collecting results. In 2014, Voyeur joined the USA team at the WEG in Normandy. On that occasion, the duo ranked 32nd in the individual races and won a bronze medal with the team. In the same season, Kent and Voyeur debuted in the final of the FEI World Cup.
He set up Kent Farrington LLC in 2002. Based in Greenwich, CT, United States, with a second location in Florida, the stables are home to prospective young jumpers and grand prix horses.
"Finding a good horse is difficult, and you have to handle him the right way, if you want his body and mind to last - he explains - it is our duty as riders to manage our athletes at best. We have to organize their commitments and their work in order to bring them to the appointments that matter in top condition. We have to find the right job for them and give them all the attention to ensure they are well. We must change and adapt the work to them, depending on their physical and mental shape. We must always keep in mind that they too have good and bad days, just like us. For me it is very important to get them out of the stable as much as possible, to work, but also to get distracted and relax. I want them to feel well, because only that way they can win and keep healthy over the years. The first thing I look for in a horse - Kent continues - is the heart: it is the most important thing, even more than his physical qualities.
To achieve results, horses must want to win exactly like us. Otherwise maybe they'll win a few competitions, but won't build successful careers. In horses I look for competitiveness, but actually the first to be competitive is me. I like to work and fight to win. For me it is a challenge, but victory in itself is not what I long for. Instead, I believe it is essential to try to understand and know each horse day by day. You cannot always ask them for 100%. You must listen to the horses, because that's how you understand things and solve problems. I'm very fond of my horses, but I think it's the same for everyone. If we look at what these horses do for us, how can we not get attached to them and not be grateful? Among other things, I can count on an incredible staff and between us there is great confidence. The people I work with are my second family. Whenever I win, it is thanks to their work, and I want them to feel my gratitude and participate in all that".
"The important foundations my career has developed on, are the passion, the work, and the right contacts - Kent concluded. The most important drive in recent years has been the love for what I do. It is this love that enabled me to find a way to achieve results, and love helps me to find a solution to any problems every day. I'm very demanding with myself, and being able to live up to expectations, whether they're mine or those of the people I consider important, can be a great source of stress. In this field, there are always many more defeats than victories and it's very easy to jump down in the dumps. The most important asset is the ability to cope with the losses and put them to good, to get going. Today my goal is to continue working to develop what I built and improve my business. I want to create something lasting and solid." 2016 will be the year of the Olympics and Kent Farrington will do all he can to be there and represent his country at best.