By Elizabeth Bonin, Staff Writer
(Nov. 7, 2019) Thirteen-year-old Chloe Paddack believed her parents when they told her she that would never own a horse. That is, until Chloe started competing and winning equestrian competitions called “eventing,” which is a riding triathlon of sorts. Two months ago, they surprised Chloe by buying Rosie, the horse they had been leasing.
“She started winning events and sweeping them,” said Laura Paddack, Chloe’s mother. “I thought, ‘Okay, she needs a horse that she can practice on all the time.’ That’s the key.”
With only two years of riding experience, Chloe recently took the overall championship at a show at Wicomico Equestrian Center in Salisbury and placed second at the Starter Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farms in Adamstown, Maryland.
Mallory Distler, Chloe’s trainer at Bay Point Equestrian Center in Berlin, told her it would take her two years to jump three feet with Rosie. The pair took just three months to accomplish the feat in practice. For Chloe, the horses come first.
“I go to school and then I come here and ride,” Chloe said, “and on the weekends I come and ride. I did miss a lot of birthday parties and I have missed a lot of events I really wanted to go to for shows.”
During the summer, Chloe trained six to eight hours a day, but since starting seventh grade at Stephen Decatur Middle School, she cut back to two or three hours. Distler attributed Chloe’s success to hard work and natural talent.
“This past summer, she really dove into being a competitive rider,” Distler said. “It’s been fun for me because I like to teach kids who want to go out and improve and compete. She’s eager to learn everything.”
Along with success at competitions, Chloe found an opportunity with the saddle company, Prestige Italia. Chloe signed with the company as a Bronze Ambassador after a friend of Distler’s suggested to Prestige that the company ask Chloe to apply for an ambassadorship.
“When they got back to us, they said they accepted me,” Chloe said. “Now I’m an ambassador and I’m really excited to work with them because I like their stuff. I ride Prestige.”
Chloe and Laura explained that the ambassadorship is similar to a social media influencer. In exchange for using Prestige products and advertising the brand on a separate Instagram account, Chloe receives free Prestige products and gift cards, which help offset her equipment costs. Distler has also worked with the company, but on a higher sponsorship level that helps pay for competition fees.
“It’s a cool way that Prestige is allowing students of mine to be part of the team and promote the brand,” Distler said. “I don’t know any other saddle brands that do it that way.”
Chloe also must compete in at least 12 competitions a year to stay eligible as a Bronze Ambassador, but that’s an easy requirement for her.
“I love competing,” Chloe said. “It’s so much fun. It’s good to see your progress, exactly where you are.”
Distler invited Chloe to Aiken, South Carolina early next year to train for 10 days in the town known for horse training farms that have skilled trainers and competitors, including a few Olympians.
“I get input from a different person instead of my trainer,” Chloe said. “It’s different things. If she says something, he might say, ‘I agree with you here, but you can also work on this.’ It’s different feedback and you get to hear from somebody else’s point of view.”
Though Chloe is done with competitions for 2019, she is looking forward to new challenges, such as jumping higher with Rosie and training what’s called a project horse.
“You take a horse that’s very inexperienced and you train with it,” Chloe said. “You take them places, you take them schooling, you do lessons and it helps build their knowledge and you turn them into something they weren’t.”
Other goals are to compete in the Burghley Horse Trials, one of the top three-day events, and the Olympics.
“I see her going as far as she wants to take it,” Distler said. “She’s very eager to go out and learn and be competitive.”
Even with all the hard work and sacrifices, Chloe maintains that it’s important to have fun riding and to never give up.
“You will make progress,” Chloe said. “And don’t compare yourself to other riders and their horses. You have your horse for a reason.”
Even with her sudden success, Chloe is still like most seventh graders. She giggled when she asked to mention her two friends.
“I like riding with my friends Mia and Lauren,” Chloe said. “They also help me learn and we have fun together.”
Chloe’s Instagram for Prestige Italia can be found under @the_chloshow.