At this point, it seems almost silly that Goode Rider athlete Lauren Billys
would be doing anything other than riding. However, her path wasn’t always so obvious. Although Lauren grew up riding horses, she was not certain that she wanted to pursue an equestrian career. She attended Fresno State University in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where she earned a double degree in Enology and Chemistry in 2013. Lauren was even named the distinguished student in the Department of Enology and Viticulture. But her love of riding persisted, as well. Having competed in three-day eventing in her youth — her first horse, Texas Ranger, taught her the ropes of lower-level competition — she founded her own training business, Lauren Billys Eventing, while still in college.
Near the end of her college career, the opportunity arose for Lauren to compete in the Olympic Games. Since her grandmother is Puerto Rican, she is eligible to ride on behalf of the island territory. She decided to put her wine career on hold, at least for the time being. “I told myself I would give myself a fair shot to achieve my Olympic dream until 2016 and then decide if I would dive back into the wine industry,” she explains.
The path to Rio was a long one. In addition to all the training and preparation that goes into an Olympic run, Lauren had to do some serious fundraising. She raised money and formed a syndicate to purchase her mount, Castle Larchfield Purdy. Eventually, Lauren made it to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, becoming the first eventer in history to represent Puerto Rico at the Olympics. “It was the most fulfilling and magical riding I have done in my life,” she says. “This event gave me a new perspective on the meaning of ‘team.’ The owners, veterinarians, grooms, coaches and people behind the scenes make a moment like this unrepeatable and so powerful.”
The experience also had a profound impact on her career. “As I finished the Rio Olympics, I came through the finish flags and almost instinctually committed to competing at the top of the sport for the rest of my life.
Now based in Carmel Valley, California, Lauren has a whole host of accomplishments under her belt. In addition to the 2016 Olympic Games, she competed in the 2015 Pan American Games, as well the 2011 Games in Guadalajara, Mexico (on the mare Ballingowan Ginger). More recently, she was the 2017 Chef d’equip for the Area VI Gold Medal eventing team. Lauren has also racked up a long list of high USEA rankings and wins at upper-level events in the U.S.
She also has a promising stable of up-and-coming horses. One of her recent acquisitions is a swanky five-year old German Sport Horse, Can Be Sweet. Known around the barn as Charlie, he has “the gallop, movement and jump to be as elegant as any at the top of the sport.” Her other new new ride, Caletina, is a six-year-old Holsteiner mare. “She is an amazing jumper with a fighting spirit,” Lauren notes. Like Purdy, both horses are owned by syndicates (all of which still have a few shares up for grabs).
Her immediate plans for these two and her longtime partner Purdy are bold. “I would like to get both my new horses out this year. Charlie needs to compete in the five-year-old YEH, and I would like to get Purdy qualified for next year’s World Equestrian Games.”
“I love the relationships I get to make with each horse, particularly the ones I get to show and compete to reach the top of the sport,” says Lauren. It takes a lot of hard work to make that happen. Every day at Lauren Billys Eventing begins at 7am as she feeds and clean stalls before starting a full day of riding and teaching, usually around eight horses a day, six days a week. “Each horse and rider has different goals,” she says. “It is my job to help build positive experiences to make each horse and rider journey as successful as possible.”
Her Goode Rider breeches are up to the task through all of it. “I love that the breeches are so stylish and unbelievably durable. I ride horses all day, every day and have yet to wear out a pair of GR breeches. Plus, their styles for each season are so fun and attractive. I always get questions about my outfits.”
Although she tries to give herself one day off a week to hike and cook (and cheer on her fiancé when he competes in Spartan Racing, which involves navigating a high-intensity obstacle course), she admits that you have to clock in the hours. “Learn to work hard even when you are tired,” the Goode Rider athlete advises aspiring professionals. “Don’t be a victim of your circumstances but a champion because of them.”