Each issue, MSEDA will highlight a member who is active in the organization to give other members a peek into their horse-loving lives, as well as find out what they do when they are not in the barn or arena. Interested in being featured? Email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Megan Northrop, an Oldham County native, is constantly on the go. With multiple full-time jobs, 5.5 horses, 19 dogs (yes, you read BOTH of those numbers correctly—anyone looking for a sweet Black Lab?) and a really nice little mare (the duo won the AECs in the Novice division last year), Megan has completely immersed herself in the horse world. While excited to see where her horses are going, she is quick to remember who helped her along the way and tells MSEDA why she thinks the best instructors in the country are right here in the MidSouth Area.
Image provided by Megan Northrop. Photo by Sportfot.
MSEDA: Where are you from?
Megan Northrop: I am from Kentucky; I’ve lived in all parts of Oldham County my entire life.
MSEDA: When did you begin riding?
MN: I have had a passion for horses since I could talk my mother said--I didn’t grow up in a horsey family, so I guess it was I was just “born” with it! My mom let me start taking riding lessons from a friend when I was about 7 or 8 … when I continued to want to pursue riding, she took me out to her cousin’s farm (Madelyn Jacobs). Madelyn introduced me to eventing and I bought my first horse from her when I was 11.
MSEDA: Were your parents supportive of riding?
MN: My mother was supportive, but my Dad was there for everything: lessons, horse shows, barn cleaning, EVERYTHING! He was the best horse show Dad ever!
MSEDA: Did you have to give up other things to ride?
MN: By the time I was in high school, I was completely immersed in my training and competing two horses at the Training/Prelim level … there was no time at all for other sports.
MSEDA: When did you get your first horse?
MN: I got my first horse at age 11. He was owned by a man who boarded him at my cousin’s farm. He did not like men and whenever the guy would come to ride him, he wouldn’t be caught. He loved me and I was the only one who could catch him in the field. The horses name was Ribbons--he was a Heinz 57, probably some type of draft/Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred cross.
I competed him through the Training Level. He was a good teacher, but I had to ride him pretty hard or he would stop at the jumps. He taught me to ride tough!
MSEDA: When did you begin competing?
MNL My first shows I did at age 11 with my Ribbons - we would go to the hunter shows they had at Tom Sawyer Park--those were fun! I did my first event on him at Pre-Training Level (Novice) at High Meadows in Illinois at age 12 and we won--guess it was beginners luck!
MSEDA: What horses do you own now?
MN: I have 5 1/2 horses right now. I own two Thoroughbreds that I reschooled off the track and I primarily foxhunt them. I own a small Canadian Sport Horse mare I bought as a youngster out of Canada as a re-sale project. She recently won her Novice Division at the American Eventing Championship in Tryon last fall. She’s pretty super--I moved her up to Training Level this spring and she is doing great. She will be for sale in July. My daughter has a very spoiled retired foxhunting pony and also her current event horse that is an OTTB. We also have a Miniature Pony that is a companion to her (did I mention very spoiled) retired pony=the mini counts as the 1/2 horse. We keep them all at our farm in Crestwood.
MSEDA: How long have you been a MSEDA member?
MN: I’ve been a member as long as I can remember! At least since I was a teenager, so like 30 years on and off? I have seen it change names a few times, as well.
MSEDA: What is your favorite event or horse show? Why?
MN: Oh gosh there are so many! I think it must be Flying Cross Horse Trials. What a great venue that is! Alan Northcutt is so generous to continue to support our sport with his awesome farm and I just love Mary Lowery--she was my eventing coach when I was in high school and she did a lot for me!
I have always loved River Glenn Horse Trials and have been going there since I was a teenager. We have recently fallen in love with South Farm Horse Trials--it’s pretty awesome!
MSEDA: Who is one person you would not have met without the horses?
MN: My husband--I guess that’s pretty important!
MSEDA: What have the horses brought you that you are most thankful for?
MN: A life full of wonderful challenges and education, and so much Joy … they are my heart animal for sure.
MSEDA: Do you have any good luck rituals?
MN: I don’t think I have good luck rituals, but I am definitely a bit superstitious … I do knock on wood a lot and I try not to jinx myself by saying things before they happen.
MSEDA: What do you do full time? Do you enjoy it?
MN: I have about five full-time jobs …. there are not enough hours in the day for all my full-time jobs.
MSEDA: What is your specialty?
MN: I am a jack of all trades … I move about 90 miles per hour all the time just to get things done… With the horses, I love re-schooling them off the track. I feel like I do a pretty good job at getting them started, assessing them and getting them into the discipline that best suits them. I really love doing that even more than competing.
MSEDA: What are your favorite riding accomplishments?
MN: I would say completing an original long format Preliminary 3-day event on an OTTB that I reschooled in my early 20s … that was a great goal to accomplish.
The other one was winning my Novice Division at the American Eventing Championship in Tryon on my mare last fall. I still can’t believe we won … I really just can’t believe all the cards lined up perfectly for us that weekend. That was amazing.
Image provided by Megan Northrop
MSEDA: What is your favorite memory with your horse(s)?
MN: A really special memory I have is when my cousin and my Dad surprised me with a horse that I tried in England when I was 16 — I thought we weren’t going to get him because he had had been unable to pass a pre-purchase exam. They secretly imported him and when I drove up at the barn the afternoon that he arrived from quarantine, there he was looking out the stall at me. I literally jumped out of the truck before I even put it in park (that’s another story in itself!). He was such a super horse and I competed him through Prelim when I was in high school.
MSEDA: What are your favorite equestrian brands?
MN: Well, I am not so much into branding, but I like to purchase things that work and that are quality. A few things I have always liked are Wolff brand galloping boots . Ariat is a great product no matter what they make--and I LOVE my Bobby’s Hunt Bridle!
MSEDA: What is your goal this year?
MN: My goal with my little horse this year is to have her win some nice ribbons at the Training level. We are currently in "show jumping boot camp” as that is our weakest phase. Then I hope to sell her to a wonderful person and purchase a larger horse that I can work with that my daughter can compete in a couple years.
MSEDA: Who do you ride with?
MN: I primarily train with Martha Lambert, but I love taking lessons and clinics from a variety of people. There are so many professionals in our area who have been so generous to me and jumped in to help me when I needed it; they have help me warm up, walk courses and just be there for support. We have THE best instructors in the country right here in the Mid-South Area.
MSEDA: What is one piece of advice you would give someone, related to anything?
MN: Surround yourself with quality people, trainers and horses. Don’t buy cheap stuff and don’t waste your time or energy or risk being hurt with dangerous or untrainable horses--there are too many nice ones out there.
For teenagers, my best advise besides that is:
1. Join Pony Club and stay in until you get you’re A--it will be an amazing accomplishment
2. Be a working student for someone. It’s the hardest work you will ever do, but the best education you will ever have both for your riding and as a person. I was a working student for Denny Emerson for the summer between my junior and senior year in high school; then went back after high school to work for 6 months … OMG that was hard work and long days, but well worth the effort for someone who really wants to be successful.
Oh, and practice Dressage. The key to any successful rider is good and correct dressage training.
MSEDA: What would be the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
MN: I would buy a huge farm in Oldham County and build a first-class training facility to board horses with awesome resources for caring for the horses, awesome help and awesome turnout!
MSEDA: What is your favorite book?
MN: I don’t have time to read, but when I do, I don’t like to waste time reading fiction. I love learning things, so I always pick an article or book that I can learn something from--obviously usually about horses!
MSEDA: Do you have other hobbies? What are they?
MN: I can’t think of anything I enjoy that doesn’t involve horses … is that bad? I do like hunting, mostly foxhunting, but I guess that is a horse sport also…
MSEDA: What do you feel makes a horse person “successful?”
MN: You have to LOVE horses, then pour your heart and soul into them. It has to be your passion; something you live and breathe.
MSEDA: Which phase of eventing do you like the best?
MN: I LOVE dressage. I was always that odd event rider who loved dressage. Eventers usually try to “get thru the dressage phase” to move on to the fun jumping phases, but I have always LOVED dressage! But it’s the XC that keeps us eventing. I mean is there anything more exhilarating and fun that a great XC run! I do hate Show Jumping…
MSEDA: What other animals do you own?
MN: We have six dogs (in addition to currently owning 13 Black Lab puppies--anyone looking for a Black Lab puppy??), three cats, two goats and a sugar glider. The snakes have all escaped their cages and we can’t seem to keep fish alive for more than a week, so we have given up on those.
MSEDA: What are you passionate about other than horses?
MN: What I enjoy most right now is watching my daughter be as passionate about this sport of eventing as I have been. That excites me. I am not sure if that passion for horses is a gift or a curse, but either way it’s not something we can control, it’s just something we have. As much as I love training and riding, I love watching her ride even more. She’s pretty special.