The Mechlin Farm barn community has something for everyone — rising stars working their way through the pony ranks, juniors stepping up to new challenges, and amateurs juggling demands of home, work and horse. Kristi Bright is one of our amateurs who manages that balancing act oh-so-gracefully.
Kristi came back to riding after an extended break — for school, kids, life in general — and now owns two horses and competes in the Adult Jumper divisions. Despite Kristi’s demanding schedule, she’s quick to help anyone around the barn with anything — she’ll ride your horse for you, teach you how to body clip, and will always be cheering for you at the rail. We caught up with Kristi to talk about her return to riding and what’s ahead in her amateur riding career.
When did you start riding and when did you stop?
I started riding when I was 5 years old. I started off western on an old Quarter horse named Dandy. Santa got me a pony and didn’t know any better so that pony was very green and not kid-friendly. We traded her in for Dilly, a leopard Appaloosa, born wild in the Colorado Rockies. They trained her to do steeplechase so I started learning to jump on her and had her for 8 years.
I stopped when I was 15. All my friends stopped riding and I could get a car if I sold my horse ? unfortunately I chose a car…
I did the high school, college, kids thing and came back full circle to riding and don’t think I will ever quit again. It’s just too special to ever give up and I’m old enough and wise enough to realize that now.
Why did you decide to take up riding again?
I decided to take riding up again because one of my best friends Mary Kate started back up and she would always tell me all these amazing stories. It just got to the point where the nostalgia took over and my kids were finally old enough to where I could leave for a few hours in the evening after my fiancé, their father, Ryan, got home from work.
Then I ran into Sue and Dan Busse at the Charity Horse Show a few years back and they told me about Mechlin Farm and Sarah. She raved about it and held me to it that I would at least come out for a lesson. So I did, and have been there ever since.
I drove three times a week from South City to Wright City at 4:30pm and got home at 9pm just so I could bond with and ride my new horse Bun aka Duracell, the first horse I bought since starting back up again. He is a now 19-year-old Hanoverian that captured my heart and has it for life!
He has taught me everything I know and I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to re-introduce my old ass to riding again. He is a gem. We call him “The Professor” for obvious reasons.
As an amateur, what things were you looking for in a barn?
I was looking for a trainer that is dedicated, that is a badass, and has a real passion for this. Someone who is down to earth, who gets life, and who is a great horseman.
The camaraderie and family atmosphere that Mechlin has is unmatched. We all look out for each other no matter what. All we do is laugh and ride, and we are all pretty darn good at it, both making one another laugh and encouraging each other to remain challenged in their riding career and achieving goals that have been discussed and set.
You have 2 young kids — what’s your secret to balancing home life and horse life?
Oh my gosh, I lucked out! My kids love the barn and the barn loves having my crazies around! I have an extremely supportive fiancé and he gets this crazy horse world! The kiddos go to preschool three times a week, so I am able to ride and practice in the day twice during the week and ride as many as I can on those days, and I am able to be there on Saturdays as well.
In the evenings, I do graphic design and marketing part-time for my dad’s family business and have been doing that for six years. Prior to children, I did graphic design and website development as a full-time career.
You now own two horses, both jumpers. Was that the plan?
Well, originally I wanted to do hunters and never even considered jumpers until I rode and showed Bun in jumpers for the first time. Then I was hooked!
I wanted two horses eventually, but it all happened a lot faster than I expected. I was ready for it though!
What are your riding goals for this year?
This year, I’m going to do the low adult adult jumpers on Spock, aka “Vulcan,” my new horse.
Where will you be as a rider in five years?
I hope I will be riding jumpers and hunters. I would love to buy young horses, train them and sell them. I know it is risky business. The ONLY reason I trust it is because of Mechlin Farm and the program I am in. I have full faith and trust in it — the stats of their horses and riders speak for themselves. The horses they have turned around with the right vetting, training and nutrition is amazing and I love seeing that transformation. That is the most rewarding part for me.