By Lauren R. Giannini
Connor Husain, 18, hopes to qualify for the eventing two-star at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships this July at Kentucky Horse Park. Last fall, he bought Piece of Hope, nicknamed “Bruno” around the barn, who offered athletic talent and valuable overseas experience in the European Young Rider Championships and had just won the Breda CIC*** (BEL). The new partnership launched with great success, getting acquainted at Training and moving up through the levels. At the end of March, Bruno and Connor won Open Intermediate in a field of 21 at Morven Park (VA). Connor is a working student with Skyeler Icke Voss, head trainer of Angelica Run Eventing and a three-time NAYRC medalist.
How did you get into eventing?
I always liked unique sports and when I was seven, I was bored with normal sports. We lived in Great Falls (VA) and I wanted to try riding. I got my first lesson from a family friend, Leslie Frederick, and that’s all she wrote. With horses, there is always something to learn, always something different.
When did you start working with Skyeler Icke Voss?
I was about 14 and in a rut in my training. My dressage had to be the worst you’ve ever seen. I went to Skyeler and her dressage trainer Sallie Spenard and a few months later moved into Angelic Run Farm (Vienna, VA). The horse I had we sent back, he had some issues, and I ended up with Folk Lore – “Story” – from Allison Springer. I couldn’t ride well at all and I went to boot camp with Story. He taught me the real basics of riding: I went from Novice to one-star, from a 45 to a 26 in dressage. Skyeler put so much effort into training me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. Skyeler taught me how to be a good horseman, about taking care of the horses as well as the riding.
What is it like to have parents who purchased Morningside Training Farm, a dream facility, and installed Skyeler as the head trainer?
I feel like I’m the luckiest kid in the world. I can’t take it for granted. You can have all the money and horses; but if you don’t put the time into it, you can’t be successful. My parents aren’t horse people; but they’ve seen my passion and have been so supportive of me over the years and especially the past three years when I’ve ridden with Skyeler. One of the most important things I learned is – listen to your trainer! When I wanted to move up early, Skyeler said no. She was right, and we won our first time out at Prelim and Intermediate.
Is it true that you home schooled before George Mason?
Actually, I did my senior year of high school online because I was a full-time working student with Skyeler and competing a lot more, aiming at Young Riders with Folk Lore. I didn’t like it in a standard high school situation. I did better on my own. With online schooling, you could do it when you want to: you could wait until the end of the quarter or pace yourself. I paced myself. I’d be at the barn until seven o’clock some days and then go home and study. I think that online schooling is a great option, especially when you’re at the upper level in a sport. In one of my classes, one girl in Colorado was an Olympic gymnast. It’s also important to interact with a lot of people and I had the best of both worlds – I had already gone to traditional school for 11 years and I was interacting with the people at Angelica Run. That’s the year that my riding really came on. Skyeler gets all her horses off the track and trains them up through the levels. I rode all of Skyeler’s OTTBs that year. I learned stickability and finesse.
What about your goals and your new ride?
Once I got into horses, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m very one-track minded and I think about them all the time. Young Riders is a steppingstone. I hope to get on a Pan Am team and the Olympics would be a dream come true! Last fall we bought Bruno from Christoffer Forsberg (GER) and I really hope he will be my Advanced horse after Young Riders this summer. He’s 13 and had done a three-star a few weeks before we bought him. I love him to death. He’s easy to deal with. He lays down in the stall and I can sit with him. He’s amazing.