Get to know Piper Klemm – an amateur rider, horse lover, newlywed, and owner of your favorite equine publication – The Plaid Horse. We chatted with Piper to find out how she balances work and horses, her go-to huntcoat, her top tips for battling show anxiety, where she gets her post-ride wine and show ring sunscreen, and more.
Name: Piper Klemm, Ph.D – owner, The Plaid Horse magazine
Location: Canton, NY
Years Riding: 23
What division(s) do you show in? Whatever I can, usually Pre-Adult or similar Hunter.
Why did you start riding? I have always loved horses. I went on a pony ride at a friend’s birthday party at about 3 years old and was hooked. I started taking lessons when I was six – my mom and I opened the phone book and found a barn in the Yellow Pages!
Highlight of your amateur career so far? Getting to ride Sundae the best horse (#sundaethebesthorse) at HITS Coachella this year. He’s been sold, but he was owned by Balmoral then and he is a really special horse. He loves to win and is very competitive and taught me a lot about what I’m aiming for every other time I get to ride.
Favorite horse show? The Devon Horse Show. It was the ‘big show’ near my house growing up where all my idols would travel in to compete and I could see them and it still is magical. I’ve competed a few times in the Hunter Breeding divisions and it’s always exciting.
Favorite hotel at away shows? I prefer to stay at friends’ houses whenever possible or rent a house and fill it up with guests, interns, etc – I love to have a lot going on and people everywhere trying to get a leg up in this sport. It keeps the energy level and positivity levels at all time highs, which is really important as we all know how grueling physically and emotionally horse shows can be. Other than that, I like to be where everyone else is – when you can catch up with people at the hotel bar at the end of the day or hear about someone’s horse show day at breakfast the next morning.
Favorite bar/restaurant that you always go to after riding? When I’m at home, we usually have a beer or barbecue at someone’s house afterwards. For most horse shows, I have a low key place nearby and a delicious place – like for Old Salem shows in North Salem, NY – we go to Rosy Tomorrow’s for something a little more comforting and low key after a big day or Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish if we want to have a foodie experience.
Favorite hunt coat brand in your closet right now? The Alessandro Albanese mesh jacket from EQU Lifestyle Boutique. A lifesaver for those hot sunny days. I’ve been wearing the green, but at $260, you can put every color in your closet.
Best part of the ammy social scene/community? I would say how supportive everyone generally is. Most people coming up to the Amateur ring – we all know we can’t practice enough, are super stressed from work, and have a lot going on, but we’re so grateful to just be there, to get to ride, to have the time out of work, and we appreciate every second – the horses, our friends, and all the help we get.
What’s the one thing you hear your trainer say again and again in a lesson like a broken record? Stop pulling. No matter how slow you might think I’m going, I can, in fact, always be going slower.
What’s your worst habit on a horse you just can’t break?: Growing up, I rode Thoroughbreds and horses that were hot and the ponies I broke were all spicy; it was all about being calm and slowing things down. So, when I came back as an adult and got on all of these lazy warmbloods, I literally realized that I didn’t know how to make a horse go! I’ve been back at it for a few years, but I still get on some and I’m kicking and pushing and my instinct is to cowboy up and just pony kick and slap their shoulders with the reins. I’m still working on being sophisticated with the super lazy ones. I’m not sure if it will ever be ‘my ride,’ but I’m working on improving myself. It really exposes that I need to hit the gym more!
What’s your best tip for overcoming lesson or show anxiety?: I have huge anxiety right up until I walk into the ring. When I get all worked up, I think about how lucky I am – how much the ten year old version of me would die to know I was riding these horse and at these horse shows. I’m just so grateful to get to do what I do. Focusing on this makes me much more liable to cry and be emotional if I happen to win, though.
Favorite sunscreen?: I have really sensitive skin, so I always pick a big hat instead of sunscreen if I feel like I can get away with it. For the super sunny days, I go with Kiehls Super Multi Corrective Cream – spf 30.
Favorite makeup for riding in?: I don’t ride in make-up very often, but if I do, it’s usually a light BB cream, again from Kiehls.
Best skincare tip for riders?: Make every effort to eat healthy while traveling at away horse shows – go to the grocery store, pack snacks, and don’t get sucked in to all the bad food in front of you!
Most important question: favorite summer cocktail? I love a good margarita anytime of year.
Second most important: favorite post-ride wine? I’ve been enjoying Wall of Sound, a red blend recommended from Winc.com lately. I like most all cabernets. I miss living in California – our wine selection is not brilliant here.
Tell us a little about what your magazine is about? The Plaid Horse is focused on the entire horse show experience. It’s not just about top this or super expensive that, we really strive to educate young horsemen, celebrate our industry from the grassroots up, and create a positive and fun space for all competitors. We have a massive internship program to get young riders involved in the community and share their creativity and passion, are the Presenting Sponsor of the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (ushja.org/hqc), and help riders of all ages access opportunities for growth and advancement in this sport that they might not otherwise be able. We love to hear from everyone – if you want to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Last question: newly married, running the magazine and showing and managing your ponies….how do you juggle all of it and do you have any tips for other working professionals who ride and work? Yes, it’s a stretch to get everything done! I think a big part is recognizing your weaknesses and letting other people help you with those. For example, I’m really messy by nature and I find packing and unpacking my car for horse shows burns through a lot of motivation I have that might be better spent on larger, big picture tasks. As soon as we grew big enough to hire someone, that was one of the first tasks I turned over. Managing other people as the team has really grown in the last year has been my latest big challenge – I’m pretty chill about what comes at me, but this has been keeping me up at night and stressing over the right decisions. There is no way to grow and become better without it taking a toll on you – I embrace it and focus on what we will have created when all is said and done.