Students with different talents and hobbies walk the halls of Dominican, but when it comes to the Chevalier sisters, they’re not horsing around. These two sisters – senior Brigette Chevalier and freshman Gabby Chevalier – have taken their love of horses to the next level by training and competing as equestrians.
The sisters specialize in eventing, which is a category of equestrianism that consists of three categories – dressage, show jumping and cross country. Brigette’s favorite event is stadium, which takes place in an enclosed arena. The fast paced, timed course makes the vigorous event a nail-biter for everyone watching- including the rider.
Cross-country is Gabby’s favorite event because it is outdoors. Gabby’s love for all things nature is evident as she and her horse compete in the woods and fields, splashing through the water complexes to compete for the title of Event Champion.
“My passion for horses has been there ever since I was a little girl,” Gabby said. “It’s what pushes me to keep riding.”
It all started on a family trip to Tennessee. Both girls say that they had always loved horses, but a trail ride through the vast Smoky Mountains of Tennessee sparked their interest. Brigette and Gabby, 11 and 8 at the time, immediately enrolled in horse camp at Equest Farms and the rest is history.
“It’s not all about the riding”
Brigette and Gabby enjoy their weekends training and free-riding horses at Over the Moon Farm in Covington. “It’s not all about the riding,” Brigette explained. “I want to learn more about the horses.”
She recalls one of her greatest accomplishments throughout her career as not a physical one, but a mental feat. “It is a mental sport just as much as it is a physical sport. You have to form a bond of trust between you and your horse,” Brigette said. When the horse Brigette had been training went lame two days before a competition, she took on the challenge of nursing it back to health herself. Even though the duo had to miss the first day of competition, Brigette and her horse persevered and continued to compete for the rest of the weekend.
Gabby says that her love of horses and the hard work she puts into the sport motivates her to perform her best. She regards her greatest accomplishment as winning third place out of 62 individual riders at the Horse Riding Championships in North Carolina last year.
Two is Better Than One
Ever since the Chevalier sisters began riding together, they have been inseparable. Both girls compete in approximately six competitions each year with the Pony Club, which is a youth organization that strives to encourage young people to ride and care for horses.
“Having a sister who shares the same passion as you is really cool because it’s like a friend you can talk about it with 24/7,” Brigette said. Gabby agreed because “it is also super helpful to have someone to critique your skills so that you both can progress faster.”
Both girls hope to continue this career in different ways. Brigette’s love of horses inspires her to be an equine vet so that she can help horses and continue to ride them. Gabby wants to be a horse trainer when she grows up. The sport of equestrianism is one that takes dedication, passion and perseverance. Both sisters agree that “even though this sport can be time consuming, it is worth it in the end.”