By Kat Wojtylak
Hearty beef stew with cornbread cooked up by Kate.
Kate Samuels is a writer for Eventing Nation. She tackles the obstacles in her life as an event rider and does it all while she moonlights as a foodie. Kate ‘s story is like many others out there. She is trying to make it as a professional rider while she enjoys some of the finer pleasures in life. She likes to quip about the antics of her six year old gelding and throw dinner parties. She’s not your average equestrian, but then again, who is?
KW: Tell us about your background with horses and how you got started with it all.
KS: My mom has ridden her whole life and was responsible for getting me a pony when I was three. Before that, I was propped up on her horse in front of her. By the time I turned seven, I purchased a wild yearling from a herd of Spanish horses in North Carolina. I was feral as a child. I used to go out bareback with a halter and a leadshank and leave the farm for hours at a time, exploring on my own. Bless my parents, they let me do that. It certainly taught me a lot about stickability! My first job was riding at a race track when I was thirteen which was probably another questionable parenting choice, but I loved it. I’ve been eventing since I was twelve, with occasional forays back into the racehorse scene. However, nothing can top the thrill of cross country so I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do anything else.
Kate riding Nyls du Terroir bridle less over a 4’6″ jump.
KW: What is your horse status now?
KS: I currently have three horses and a retired pony. Nyls du Terroir, “Nyls”, is my Advanced/3* horse, whom I’ve had since he was a wee monster in 2005. We’ve come up the levels together and he’s a complete athletic freak. Anybody who knows him can tell you that he’s a serious character, but then again, aren’t all geniuses? Then I have an eight year old Thoroughbred mare named La Vie En Rose, “Ella”. I pulled her out of a field as an unbroke six year old. She has since evented through training level and done some fox-hunting. She’s probably the sweetest horse I’ve ever owned, but I realize she just isn’t going to be an upper level mount. Even though she’s looking for a new home, she likes to hang out with my 30 year old pony, Hershey, who bosses all the horses around. Last but not least is my lovely six year old Hanoverian gelding, named Lucky Gold, or “Leo”, whom I was given. He’s a giant, clocking in at 17.1 hh. He’s really athletic and very sweet, but just hasn’t had very much education. Leo was handled by riders who were no match for him physically or mentally. He’s also really talented at broncing- which is why I got him! I’ve had him for two months now and he’s slowly learning how to be a good boy. I’m not sure what his future holds, but he’s a great horse and I’m sure he’ll be cured of his bucking and find a job he likes, even if it isn’t eventing. You can follow his progress here on a weekly blog for him through Eventing Nation
KW: What are some things you’re working on now relating to horses?
KS: I’m an avid eventer trying to make my way as a professional rider, but I also spend time as a co-editor and staff writer for Eventing Nation. EN is the most informative, witty, ridiculous, and popular source for everything eventing; it’s a great place to work. I like writing and I get to write about what I love which is a huge bonus. I’ve met some wonderful people through doing that, and I really enjoy it.
KW: What’s your favorite memory relating to horses?
KS: There are too many to choose from! I remember hiding in an old abandoned barn once during a thunderstorm with my pony, I was probably nine or ten at the time. That was scary and fun! Then there was winning my first FEI competition at the 2007 Virginia CCI* with Nyls as a six year old. However, placing 2nd at our first CCI2* behind only my coach was great too, as was competing at NAJYRC and winning bronze individual and silver team medals. I think every time I come off a cross country course no matter what the level, I get a new favorite memory. Having that experience with my horse and feeling them come off the course confident and happy is just a wonderful thing.
Kate’s pumpkin dream cake.
KW: What’s your connection to the food industry, or what was?
KS: During the winter one year in college, I decided to teach myself to bake. Armed with my grandmother’s recipe book and several willing taste testers for roommates, I baked up a storm. Since I wasn’t riding much due to the crummy weather, I applied for a job as a sous chef at a newly opened restaurant. I showed up at the interview with a warm apple buttermilk custard pie in hand. I told the chef and owner three things: 1) I have no actual qualifications or a resume that applies to this job, 2) I work incredibly hard, and I learn really quickly, and 3) I promise that I won’t cry no matter how hard it gets, or how stressful the kitchen becomes. I was hired on the spot! I worked there for two years and learned a lot about cooking. I even got several of my desserts written up in the local food column! Now with my focus on eventing, I just cook for pleasure. I really enjoy throwing lavish dinner parties for my friends. I live in a really wonderful place that has a lot of emphasis on fresh locally grown food, so I take advantage of that all the time. The farmer’s market is great on Saturdays, and meat and veggies right from the farm are so much tastier! I love using any excuse I can get to grill, but also bake a lot too. I always give that away, I can’t eat a whole pie by myself!
KW: What’s your favorite horse show to attend or compete at? Tell us about the food!
KS: Most competitions that I like attending aren’t my favorites because of their food selection! Horse show food is notoriously bad, but it’s also sooooo devilishly good! The local church groups that come out and cook when you go to an event in North or South Carolina are unbelievable, and even though I have to squeeze into my dressage pants afterwards, I don’t regret it! I try to bring a lot of fruits and nuts to the barn so that I’m not tempted to eat another egg-sausage-cheese-oh-my-god on a croissant. It only sometimes works.
KW: Can you share a recipe of yours with our readers that’s great for time pressed equestrians?
KS: Grilled peaches with pecans and vanilla ice cream. The perfect summer and fall dessert! Take some peaches, halve and pit them. Pour some maple syrup onto a plate, and plop the peaches face down in the syrup for a few minutes. If you’re using a grill, wait until it’s medium low heat, and if you’re using a stove top to sear the peaches, put that on medium low. Butter the cooking surface so that your peaches don’t shrivel up. Place the peaches face down on the cooking surface and leave them there 5-10 minutes. They should come up with with a light brown sear and be warm all the way through. Brush them with maple syrup again and throw them into a bowl with some vanilla ice cream. Top with pecans and discover the delights of warm fruit and cold ice cream!
Dinner party in the evening after a full day of riding? Ain’t no thing for Kate.
KW: Any special words to live by?
KS: Everything in moderation, especially when experimenting. When it comes to horses or cooking, if you’re trying something new, add just a dash at first. I’ve come up with some of my best recipes by adding a little here, a little there. I’ve also been able to figure out some very tough horses by trying new approaches with quiet and slight changes.
Note: Kate was interviewed for the Stable Scoop Radio Show. There we tackled more food subjects and just how much of a role food plays in her life outside of horses.
Well there you have it folks. Another interesting and informative interview with an affluent horse woman who has some pretty neat food ties. You just never know who is starring as a chef de cuisine outside of their breeches! Until next time.
To full plates and eating your tarte out.
About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at email@example.com.