Posted by on Jun 7, 2011 in News | Comments Off on Lifestyle Magazine, April 2011

Lifestyle Magazine, April 2011

Lauren Billys
by Crystal R. R. Edwards
for Lifestyle Magazine, April 2011

“Eventing” is the equestrian equivalent of the triathlon. Show jumping, dressage (sometimes referred to as “horse ballet”), and cross-country are judged during the competition over two or three days.

There are three constants in life: death, taxes and horse-crazy little girls. What happens when the equine obsession turns into a possible career?

Meet Lauren Billys of Visalia. Billys, a 22-year-old student at Fresno State, rides her Irish sport horse Ballingowan Ginger in the equestrian sport referred to as three-day eventing (3DE). “I started riding when I was eight years old,” she said. “I was obsessed with horses, which was strange because no one else in my family rode.”

Her obsession led to lessons, then summer camp at Mountain View Corrals in Woodlake. At that point, she was hooked. “That was the first time I ever jumped,” she recalled. Mountain View Corrals did all three-day eventing, and before she knew it, Billys had a horse and was invited to a 3DE competition when she was 13. “There was no way I was ever going to do anything but eventing at that point,” she said.

Billys currently rides out of Eden Ranch, in Sanger, and visits her coaches Bea and Derek DiGrazia at Stillwater Farm in Carmel Valley every other weekend. “We watch movies at night, and we ride during the daytime,” she said. “I get a lot of help from them and I’m constantly in contact with Bea or Derek during the rest of the time to discuss everything that’s going on with my training.” She also works with Loris Henry in Fresno on a weekly basis. “She’s one of the top dressage judges in the world for eventing,” Billys said. “She’s been a huge help in my riding career.”

Billys is a double-major in chemistry and enology (wine making). She also teaches riding and trains rider-horse pairs in what little spare time she has left, and is hoping that eventing will become a career. “I’m hoping that I can get a lot of exposure and ride in big-time international competitions.”

How big-time are we talking? “The Pan American Games,” she said with a chuckle. “All the countries in the Western Hemisphere compete. I’m of Puerto Rican nationality, and I’ll be competing on behalf of Puerto Rico.” She explained that this is the first year Puerto Rico will come out with an eventing squad. “We don’t have an official coach yet,” she said. “Those who are qualifying for the Pan American games are all based in the United States.”

Billys trains at least three hours a day, six days a week on her 16.3-hand-tall horse. The seventh day of the week, she’s still at the barn, working with other horses. “It’s a big commitment, and it’s taught me a lot of responsibility.” She described how she was handed the keys to the truck and a horse trailer when she was 16 and given a cheerful farewell by her parents before one weekend event.

“My advice to anyone interested in eventing, or the equestrian sport in general, is to enjoy the process, not just the final product. Things can change in a day. If your horse blows a tendon, you may not be going to that competition. The end product is not always a given, but I enjoy what I’m doing every day with the horse.”

To keep updated with Billys and Ballingowan Ginger’s upcoming Pan American status, visit her blog: