Caroline Slate: Seabury Hall’s horse whisperer

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Courtesy of Caroline Slate

Seabury Hall junior Caroline Slate pursues her passion for equestrian sports by competing both on Maui and on the mainland. Slate will be heading to California this week to compete.

Veronica Winham, Staff Writer

To say that Caroline Slate loves horses is an understatement. Slate loves horses so much that she is surrounded by them every day: she shows horses in Maui and California, works long shifts at her barn five days a week, and has been riding since she was six. Slate, a junior at Seabury Hall, pours all of her passion and energy into the sport she loves, while also balancing honors classes and dance.

Slate’s life has been touched in many ways by Hawkeye, her former horse that recently passed away; Governess, the horse she currently shows; and her trainer, Rachelle Mackenzie. Growing up as an equestrian has allowed Slate to pursue her passion for riding.

Despite her full plate after school from riding, working, and ballet, the influence from True North Equestrian Barn has shaped Caroline into a more focused and diligent person.

Slate’s responsibilities at the barn include mucking, feeding, bringing horses in, and helping teach lessons to younger children. She has been working at the True North Equestrian Barn for two years now.

Seabury Hall’s speech class provides an opportunity for students to talk about people who have changed their lives in front of the whole school at assembly. Slate talked about Mackenzie at a recent assembly, and went on to gush about her, smiling during the interview as she said, “She’s amazing. You know she’s hard on me sometimes, but I think that really makes me a better rider and a better person.”

“Caroline is a very dedicated rider to the point of perfectionism. She is incredible dedicated and would ride ten horses a day if she could… she is very goal oriented and has set the bar high for herself,” wrote Mackenzie over text about Slate’s dedication.

During the summer, when most athletes take breaks from their non-year-round sports, Slate is busy riding. She spent three weeks the past summer showing horses in California at the LA Equestrian Center, and she qualified for the CPHA finals. Slate will be returning on to Los Angeles on Wednesday, October 19, to show again.

Both Slate and Mackenzie said that showing on the mainland is very different than showing in Hawaii because there are fewer competitions here, while there are at least one per week in California and other places with more riders. Slate talked about how this leads to the horses in Maui having a harder time adjusting to the competition environment and being easily spooked, and how it is much easier for the well-funded girls from other states to be more prepared.

Being an equestrian that has the ability to travel to other states provides Slate with knowledge about both her and her passion. About these experiences, she said, “I really get exposed to the industry, which is not something I really get here.”

The events that Slate competes in are children’s hunter and equitation and medals. Equitation and medals is an event where the rider is more evaluated than the horse.

When asked about her successes so far, Slate didn’t even hesitate to say, “My biggest success doesn’t have anything to do with winning, per se, or a certain tangible thing…I’d say it’s being able to feel the horse more, feel what their bodies are doing, and being able to take myself to the next level.”

Slate’s favorite part about riding is the communication she is able to develop with her horses. She takes joy from being able to connect with and understand the animal, spending at least six days a week with Governess, her show horse.

“Riding’s always been my life, and it’s going to continue to be my life,” said Slate. She wants her future to involve riding; she hopes to ride in college and go on to show horses professionally and have her own business.

“My advice for athletes is make sure you’re in a sport you love, and that you love the person that it makes you,” Slate said. She got into riding at an early age and though it didn’t come easily at first, she has grown to love and to be taught by it. “I’m not a naturally talented person,” Slate laughed. “It takes a lot of work.”