ELISA WALLACE (B.A. ’05) IS A COMPETITIVE HORSEBACK RIDER AND TRAINER, AND WAS AN ALTERNATE TO COMPETE IN THE SUMMER OLYMPICS. SHE’S ALSO A MUSTANG ADVOCATE WHO WORKS TO SAVE AMERICA’S WILD HORSE POPULATION.
Exactly what is “eventing” in the equestrian world?
It’s essentially a triathlon type event where you compete with one horse through all three phases. The first phase, called Dressage, is very similar to ballet where you have a test that has specific movements. The second phase is cross-country riding; you have the horse galloping at 25 miles per hour for distances of about four miles with about 25 to 30 jumps. The third phase is show jumping where you’re in an arena with jumps that test accuracy and fitness, trying to not knock down any of the rails at the jumps.
You’re also a mustang advocate. What does that entail?
Right now there are around 50,000 horses that are in holding facilities, and there are roughly 34,000 in the wild. The Bureau of Land Management goes out and captures these horses and they put them in holding facilities until they’re adopted. Most people don’t know that these horses exist. My goal is bridge that gap by training these horses as well as by educating the public and increasing awareness.
You were an alternate to compete at the 2016 Olympics?
Yes, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to compete in the Olympics. Our sport is difficult. We’re dealing with another entity, a horse, that has its own mind and personality.
What attracted you to want to make a career working with horses as an equestrian?
Well, I don’t think I had a choice. My dad was a trainer, and my mom rode horses while she was pregnant with me, so I think it’s kind of in my blood. It’s all I’ve ever thought about since I was a kid, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
To learn more about Elisa, visit www.wallaceeventing.com
Illustration by Daniel Krall