Millennials. They’re a generation as often maligned for their over attachment to SmartPhones as they are envied for the inherent ease at which they adopt new technology. In this monthly series, Equo is turning the spotlight on the young riders who will shape the future of horse sport and carry us all into the brave, new worldwide web of equestrianism.
Next up: Wellington’s Lucas Porter. The 19-year-old rising star finished second in the inaugural $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* at the Winter Equestrian Festival in March and is a staple in the top five of the Under 25 series. Turns out, he’s not a bad golfer, either.
You had a bit of an unusual start for a show jumper. Tell us about your early career in roping.
Growing up in Texas, English and jumping is not the biggest sport. Most people who deal with horses are either in reining or roping or barrel racing. Every weekend we’d go out to the farm—we had a couple of western horses—and my brother [Wilton] and I started riding in Western saddles and roping and reining. Those early moments in Texas got us hooked on horses.
I definitely was not very good because I was very young! But I was always very passionate about horses and about whatever I did with horses, so if I were to stay in roping I would hopefully be very good.
My mom rode English horses and jumped when she was my age in England. Just watching old videos of her jump and hearing stories about her competing against and looking up to the Whitakers got me interested in the sport. My brothers and I used a plank of wood over two buckets and tried to jump our western horses over that and that was pretty much where it took off. We found that was pretty fun and wanted to see where this took us
Every rider has their strengths in working with horses. What do you think you’re particularly good at?
I like to think that I have a lot of feel with the horses. Obviously, I’m not the biggest rider physically. I have a few horses that require a delicate touch to their mouth or you can’t leg them too much to the jump. So I like to think I’m really good with not necessarily softer horses but horses that are more sensitive, either in the mouth or to the leg. I think I’m pretty good at balancing using too much leg and not enough.
What’s one thing you’re currently working on, either in your own riding or with one of your horses?
My best horse, B Once Z, likes to jump a little bit to the left. I’m not sure what it is about my riding style but I encourage her to jump to the left as well. So one thing that my trainer, Jeroen Dubbeldam, and I are working on is keeping my right hand lower and on the right side of the neck just to make sure she stays straight over the jump and make sure she jumps in the middle and off both back legs and not just off the right hind.
Speaking of Jeroen, what’s that relationship like?
Training with Jeroen is more than just a teacher/student relationship. He’s a coach to me, he’s a mental coach, he’s a business partner, but he’s also just a great friend. Any time we’re not riding the horses or at the show competing, we like to hang out with each other at night and during the day. We’ve love go-carting together. I haven’t gotten him to golf yet, but hopefully that’s soon to come.
Are you good at golf?
Well, I could definitely beat you, Steven. (Laughs.) I love to play golf, I’m really passionate about that as well.
What’s one thing Jeroen is constantly telling you?
Not to over think too many things. I have a lot of thoughts go through my head when walking the course. Or before I jump, I’m inclined to worry about a certain jump or worry about a certain turn. He’s always just telling me, “Don’t think about it too much, just ride off what you’ve been told and what you feel because if you start thinking too much then you’re inclined to make mistakes or do something subconsciously that could lead to a mistake.”
Complete the sentence: “I was the kid…”
Who wasn’t in school very often. Between the shows, I was always travelling. I didn’t have the usual high school experience where you go to school five days a week and hang out with your friends on the weekend. I was mostly in school three, max four days, then I’d fly out Wednesday/Thursday night and fly back Sunday night.
I have graduated high school and I’ll be going to Vanderbilt in August. But I definitely didn’t go to too much school when I went to brick and mortar school.
Thank you, Lucas! We look forward to watching your career tee off.