Marshall & Sterling League: The Voice of a Champ

By Patricia Guerriero
HITS Horse Shows

After a very competitive 2014 Marshall & Sterling Insurance League season, HITS had the privilege of corresponding with one of our most successful junior equestrians, Lena Rae Reeb, to get her perspective on riding and life, in general. At sixteen years of age, Lena is not only a dedicated and fierce competitor, but also a very insightful, confident and compassionate person. It was a pleasure getting to learn about how it all started for Lena and where she feels the road ahead will take her.

Above: Lena Rae Reeb and her mother, Leslie Kogos, owner of Larkspur Farm, high five after Lena wins the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix on July 20, 2014, in Saugerties, New York, on Kogos’ Call Me. Photo courtesy of Larkspur Farm

Here’s what she had to say:

HITS: How were you introduced to riding and at what age did you first begin to ride competitively?
LRR: I was introduced to riding when I was very young as my Mom, Leslie Kogos, owns Larkspur Farm [in Wilton, Connecticut]. I started riding when I was 6. I started
competing in Short Stirrup when I was 8.

HITS: You seem very passionate about riding. Would you say that you were born to ride or was it a passion that developed over time?
LRR: I definitely think I was born to ride. It’s not just a passion of mine, it’s a necessity. I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s my cure to everything, whether I’m sick, or tired, or upset.

HITS: Who is your trainer and at which barn do you train? How long have you been training there?
LRR: I train at Larkspur Farm with Michele West, and my mom, Leslie Kogos. My mom has been one of my driving forces and inspirations.

HITS: What would you say was your biggest challenge growing up in the industry?
LRR: The biggest challenge I had growing up in the industry was balancing my school life with horses. If I could, I would spend all of my time at the barn, but in order to be a devoted student I had to really plan my time and be responsible about my studies.

HITS: What was your proudest moment or moments in show jumping?
LRR: My proudest moments were when I won the inaugural Children’s Hunter Pony Finals in 2012 on my pony, Patriot, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York; winning the Children’s Hunter Classic at the CHJA Finals on Patriot, and two years later on my horse Call Me. Another highlight was winning Grand Hunter Champion and Best Child Rider on Private Ryan in the 2014 Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals, as well as being Children’s Hunter Champion and HITS 2 Working Hunter Champion.

Left: Lena Rae Reeb on Private Ryan along with trainers Leslie Kogos and Michele West accept Best Junior Rider-Horse honors from HITS’ Kristen Vale-Mosack at the 2014 M&S Insurance League Finals in Saugerties, NY. Photo (c) ESI Photography

HITS: When you and Private Ryan won big at the 2014 M&S Insurance League Finals, what was the highlight of that event for you?
LRR: The highlight of that event was being able to see all of my hard work consistently pay off!

HITS: As you look ahead, do you think you will continue riding after high school, perhaps on an equestrian team in college?
LRR: I will certainly ride after high school, and I am open to looking into riding on an equestrian team in college.

HITS: Have you any idea what career path you would like to follow?
LRR: I would like to stay in the horse industry for my career. I couldn’t imagine anything that I’d love doing more. It’s a passion of mine that I don’t foresee ever dying down.

HITS: Would you say that riding has given you a different perspective on life?
LRR: I can’t say that riding has given me a “different” perspective on life, because it is the only perspective on life that I know. Riding really keeps me focused as my weeks are very busy. I am a straight-A student in all honors classes, at Weston High School in Connecticut. I ride every day after school and spend every evening
studying and doing homework way after my mom goes to bed.

HITS: If you had to choose one thing that riding has helped you understand about life, what would that be?
LRR: Riding has given me a compassion and understanding of horses. I always put their needs before mine. I do most of the work myself; taking care of each one after lessons or showing, bathing, grooming, wrapping and unbraiding. It has also given me a greater understanding that I could never do what I do without the support of my trainer, my parents and the staff at Larkspur Farm.

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