Now that the Olympics are done and dusted, hands up if you’re dreaming of Grand Prix glory and trophies piled high? While most of us are working patiently on our canter transitions and occasionally placing at a show, there’s some teenagers and young riders out there who are setting the equestrian world alight. And given that youth are the future of the sport, the future is looking pretty blinding from where we’re standing.
Here’s a look at some of the top young riders in the world. Keep your eyes on them – I believe they’ll be making waves at the 2024 and 2028 Olympics!
- Ben Ebeling
Ben is the son of dressage Olympian Jan Ebeling, and was practically raised on the back of a horse. And not just any horses, but top quality ones!
At only 21, Ben was shortlisted for the US Olympic Dressage team for Tokyo, despite having only made his senior debut months before. Follow him on Instagram for more insights into his daily life and achievements with Illuster van de Kampert, fondly known as Big Dog.
Oh, and he’s also jumped at top levels too. Because he says jumping is just dressage with a few fences in between.
- Mollie Summerland
British Mollie Summerland has had quite the rise to fame in the Eventing world over the last year or so. Earlier this year, she clocked her first ever 5* win at Luhmuhlen beating the biggest names in the business like Michael Jung and Tim Price. Her win made her the youngest ever winner at the event, at only 23.
And, she’s part of the GB Olympic Ambition programme for Paris 2024. So maybe you’ll see her on the big stages (if they get any bigger than 5*, that is!) sooner rather than later. She described her current horse Charly as the “horse of a lifetime” – not only did she win Luhmuhlen, but they also made their 5* debut together at Pau in 2020. What a team!
Visit her Instagram to follow her Eventing journey to stardom.
- Lillie Keenan
Another American rider who is making waves is showjumper Lillie Keenan. And she’s been no stranger to winning prizes, right from the start. Like so many of the USA’s best, she came through the ranks of equitation on her way to the top. In 2008, Lillie won five out of six championships at Pony Finals. She’s also lifted the trophy at Maclay Finals, the USEF Medal Finals, and the Washington International Horse Show Equitation championship, and USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals.
Plus, she won double gold at the North American Young Rider Championship, and was USEF’s Junior Equestrian of the Year in 2013. She jumped her first Nations Cup event at only 17 years old and as an adult professional rider, has had several placings at major shows like Devon and Wellington.
Oh, and did I mention she’s also a Harvard graduate? Some people are really just out there winning the genetic lottery, right?
- Rose Oatley
At only 14, Rose is the youngest rider on this list. But she’s certainly not lacking in accolades. She’s the daughter of Australian Olympic rider Kristy Oatley, and looks set to not only follow in her mother’s footsteps but perhaps even eclipse her.
Kristy withdrew herself from consideration for Tokyo in order to focus on Rose’s selection attempts for the Pony European Championships. And it looks like it was worth it, because Rose came home with three individual gold titles and two world records on her dancing palomino stallion Daddy Moon. There’s certainly a bright future ahead for this young superstar, who’s been the top pony rider in the world for the last 18 months running.
Here’s her Instagram, which is completely worth it just for the golden pony!
- Harry Charles
British showjumper Harry Charles is another who comes from riding royalty. His showjumper dad Peter Charles is a three-time Olympian, and formed part of the gold medal winning British team in the London 2012 Olympics.
You’ll recognise his name from the Tokyo Olympics though. At only 22, he got some invaluable mileage in Tokyo and looked remarkably calm and composed jumping around giant tracks, even with so much pressure on his young shoulders.
But he’s an old hand at dealing with pressure, after winning double gold at the 2018 European Young Rider Championships (they were later withdrawn after a contamination case, but Harry says that in his heart, he’s still the winner and he knows he won fair) and then making his five star GP debut at none other than Aachen only a week later. All at the ripe old age of 19.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing lots more of Harry in the next few years. Follow him on Instagram here.
- Harry Allen
While we’re talking about show jumping people called Harry, let’s take a quick look at Harry Allen. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because his older brother Bertram (who is still only 26) has been at the top of the sport for what feels like years upon years.
Younger brother Harry has had his fair share of success too. At 20 years old, Harry has already claimed a silver medal at the U21 European Championships, a Nations Cup win in August as part of the Senior Irish showjumping team, and a good smattering of individual wins in Grand Prix events.
As far as I know, none of the other five siblings are busy making waves like Harry and Bertram…..yet. Follow Harry on Instagram here to see whether he catches up to big brother Bertram in the next year or two.
These are six young riders I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of….but I’d love to hear who you think will be topping the rankings a few years from now. Let us know who your favorite up and coming riders are by leaving a comment below!