In honor of Sponsored Trainer’s Ema Klugman’s goal to compete at the 2023 Kentucky 3-Day Event, TDR took a minute to talk to Ema about the event, and how you balance being a professional rider with being a law student.
(Ema pictured riding RF Redfern)
But who is Ema Klugman?
Ema Klugman is a young event rider with horses from Training through Advanced. In addition to being a professional rider, Ema is a full time law student. In 2021, she was the highest-placed young rider at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, her first attempt at the 5* level.
In 2022, Ema had 21 starts from Training level through 4* including 16 top-ten placings and a 95% clear rate in cross country. Her 4* mare, Bronte Beach, was ranked in the top 10 eventing mares in the country. Ema and Bronte Beach placed 5th in their first Nations Cup riding for Team Australia.
The Distinguished Rider is looking forward to be able to support this amazing up and coming eventer! Read more for a brief interview with Ema.
TDR: What horse are you hoping to compete at the 5*?
Bronte Beach will be my horse for this year. She has done three CCI4*Ls, so assuming our spring goes to plan, I will be excited to take a crack at her first 5*.
TDR: What does it take for a horse/rider to qualify to ride?
Ema: In terms of general rules/requirements, horses and riders generally have to complete, with a qualifying score, two CCI4*Ls and three CCI4*S competitions to compete at 5*. Of course, to compete at 4*, you also have to obtain the minimum requirements for 3* and 2*. So it is a long road– it typically takes a minimum of five or six years to get qualified, and that’s assuming that you have a smooth run going up the levels.
From the riding side of things, preparing and training for a 5* is a big challenge. We know the dressage and jumping phases will be technical, but the biggest thing is that the cross country course is bigger, bolder, and more difficult than any 4* track that we do in the rest of the year. After all, there are only seven 5* competitions in the world, and they are supposed to be hard!
TDR: Who helps you prepare, qualify, and ultimately attend such an event?
Ema: The number of people behind me and my horses is astonishing. Bronte is owned by a syndicate of 40 people, who each own small shares of her. They help support her financially and obviously play a huge role in the journey.
The other major parts of my team include my vets, my farrier, my coaches, and my sponsors. There are many, many pieces of the puzzle that have to go right to get to an event like Kentucky. My Mum usually plays the role of groom, and she takes fabulous care of Bronte. She even hacks her out at home sometimes to help with the fitness work. My girlfriend, who is also a veterinarian, is also a huge help in many ways– from emotional support to veterinary advice.
TDR: How do you prepare for such an event?
Ema: Our preparation this spring will consist of three events, at the intermediate and advanced/4* levels. These will be both for practice and fitness, so that we can get to Kentucky as well-prepared as we can be.
TDR: What does the Kentucky 3-Day Event mean to you?
Ema: I first attended in 2021, the year after COVID had canceled the event in 2020. There were no spectators that year because of the pandemic, but the place was so special. I had the cross country round of my life on Bendigo, a horse that I have had since I was 14 years old and produced myself. He is now semi-retired, but if I can reproduce a cross country round like that on my other horses moving forward, I will be very happy.
TDR: How do you balance law school with being a professional eventer?
Ema: Lots of early mornings, lots of coffee, and lots of planning. I am a serial planner, so I try to map everything out for the week with precision so that I know what I need to get done and what the horses are doing. School matters a huge deal to me; I take pride in doing well and I don’t cut corners. However, I absolutely cannot miss a fitness day with my horses or cut corners in their training either, so sometimes I get a little behind in school while the competition season is busy. Playing catch-up can be stressful, but I usually put my head down and get it done! I’m privileged to have access to this educational opportunity and look forward to being a rider/lawyer in a couple of years, which will be an entirely new challenge of balancing.
(Ema pictured riding RF Redfern)