The Next Generation of Elite Athletes
By: Kristen Franz
The youngest generation of riders are beginning to emerge within the equestrian community and Hailey Royce, 13, is paving the path. Royce’s determination to the sport and competitive mindset separate her from other competitors as she wills her way to the top of the standards. In the beginning of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, Hailey Royce began her season in the Low Junior Jumpers with her nine year old Oldenburg gelding, Quint. Throughout the past eleven weeks Royce has trained tirelessly to make the most of the elite competition she has sacrificed so much to be at.
As the second to last week of WEF was coming to a close, Royce found herself learning the course for the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic, set at 1.45m, the largest class Royce has ever competed at. She explained that it was like any other Sunday at a horse show, except the jumps were much larger than normal. Royce did not let that get to her head as she warmed up and trotted under the Rolex bridge into the International ring. Despite the two rails on course, Hailey Royce exited the arena victoriously. She said “For our first High classic together, I thought it went very well. I was really hoping for a clear round but Quint was being a star and jumped fantastic. I couldn’t be happier with how he was.” Royce explained that when she first bought Quint she was uncertain of what he was capable of doing so completing this course was a major feat for her and her family who have put so much faith and training into him to get there.
Hailey Royce debuted her jumper career at WEF when she was only nine years old and has come down every year since. To her, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is like a second home. Different from past years, she has stayed in Florida for the entirety of this season and has loved every moment of it. Royce gave up her eighth grade year of school with her friends in order to compete and has never looked back on her decision since. She knew that in order to reach the apex of her riding career she would have to devote all of her time to the sport. With just one more week of the largest horse show in the nation, Hailey Royce is determined to ride with confidence as she jumps to new heights.