Rider Profile: Patricia Griffith
This month marks Patricia Griffith’s 20th year at Heritage Farm, where she works as a trainer and rider. She has trained some of the best – she taught Reed Kessler, the youngest rider in show jumping history to compete in the Olympics, her diagonals. This is what she considers her legacy, an innate ability to take her skills as a well-rounded horse person with a highly-developed work ethic and make riders who will go on to show on the world’s biggest stages.
“I did not come from a horse family or a family that bought me horses or sent me to Florida every winter,” says Griffith. “I just never lost sight of the fact that this was what I wanted to do.” She recalls her parents’ amusement when, the first time she rode a pony at age six, she refused to get off. “I wanted to go around again and again and again,” she says. By the time she was in high school, she was doing anything she could to earn time in the saddle, once braiding 20 horses in a night. Her parents were strict about her grades not slipping due to her riding. She woke early and stayed late at the barn, taking AP classes during the day and maintaining a high GPA. “I feel tired just thinking about it,” she laughs.
Griffith at HITS Saugerties © ESI Photography
Her parents made it clear that “this was what it was,” says Griffith. “They weren’t able to financially support me having my own horse.” So Griffith made it work. She taught summer camp. She clipped horses, loaded trailers, groomed and hacked other young riders’ horses. She took younger riders on lead rides and used the opportunity walking and trotting for an hour to ride without stirrups. “I learned a lot and self-taught about riding and horse care,” she says. After high school, thanks to her high GPA and her aspirations of becoming a veterinarian, she was offered two academic scholarships. She deferred her admission for a year – and never looked back.
Griffith after winning the $5000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in 2015 © ESI Photography
Now Griffith uses the drive and passion she honed as a working student to shape the next generation of riders. “As a teacher there’s been so many wonderful memories,” she says. “So many magical moments, moments that make it all worthwhile.” Sometimes young riders come to her with bad habits – Griffith insists on perfecting all of her students’ basics before moving forward. “You have to backtrack a little,” she says.
Griffith at HITS Saugerties in 2011 © ESI Photography
A seasoned rider in her own right, she practices what she preaches. She wins frequently at HITS, taking home the blue in the 2012 $500,000 Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties. The same weekend, she placed 10th in the $1 Million Grand Prix. She has come a long way as a horse person. “I didn’t dream that big when I was a kid,” she says of having a horse that could handle the course at HITS Saugerties. “I didn’t think there could be a local kid riding at that level and having a horse that could do jumps that high.” She owes her success to her work ethic and her passion for horses. To young professionals, she urges dedication to the sport. “Nothing is impossible,” she says.
The HITS Blog has previously profiled Mary-Kate Olsen, Olympians McClain Ward and Matt Williams as well as young riders like Michael Hughes and Megan Hackett. To nominate a rider to be profiled on the blog, send us an email!