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Lillie Keenan

"I was lucky to fall in love with horses before competition." Lillie Keenan talks about a real obsession she has for horses since her childhood, and from the age of 12, she knew she wanted to work with them. Supported in her passion by an invested family, including a riding mother, she pursued her studies till she graduated from Harvard. Lillie is now wearing the red of the American jacket on international competition grounds, as she now devotes herself fully to her career of jumping rider.

Hi Mark,

I work not only with Cian, but also his entire team at Karlswood. Over the summer I got to integrate myself into the full program, but while I am also going to college I depend on his team to manage my horses. Not having the chance to practice can be very difficult, but I never have to worry about my horses. It is amazing that I can not ride for two weeks and go to a 5 star show and not worry that my horses might not be fit enough leading up to the show.
I can't say enough about the team at Karlswood, especially Michael Kelly, Ross Mulholland and my groom, Karina Macduff.
It is important to me to not only learn from Cian, but also to learn to become a professional like him. We focus on goals, and adjusting my plan throughout the year for myself and for each of my horses. He has made it possible for me to attain some of my major goals that I never thought would have been possible over this past year. Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Sophie,

I am very fortunate for the opportunity to have competed on the "A" Circuit and to now show internationally. It is a thrilling experience and a demanding schedule for which I am grateful.
The key to preparing for these shows is a plan of preparation - or doing your homework. There is nothing that can sufficiently substitute for the confidence I feel when I have followed a thoroughly thought out plan for myself and my horses leading up to a major competition. Working with horses, it is critical to remain flexible, but it is impossible to stay consistent and to peak when you want to without a plan!

Thanks for the question

Lillie

Hey!

I started riding when I was 6 years old - so I guess you could say I have been working towards top competition for the past 14 years! I think the key for me has been that I made goals for myself and went after them full force. My best advice for someone who wants to be a top rider is to expose yourself to professionals in the sport that you admire - whether it is taking a clinic or working as a groom. Then, to not set too strict a timeline on yourself, everyone develops at their own pace, though it is critical to make goals. Also, to remember the harder you work, the luckier you will get!! I hope this helps

Lillie

Hi Kareen,

It really depends on the show and what all I have that day. I like to work out if I can before the show, and if it is too early I like to in the evening after the show to unwind. We make a plan the night before, so in the morning we already know the plan for the day. Typically, I get the show and first check all of my horses. Then I ride whatever horses I need to before competition and get organized. I also go through the tack for each horse showing that day. We video all of the rounds so at the end of the day after all the horses are put to bed, I like to watch my rounds and learn from them for the next round.

Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Amy,

I have known Jenn for a long time, and we have ridden many of the same ponies and horses so I was familiar with the qualities she likes in a horse because we often like the same ones!
When she got Kix, we talked a lot about my program for him and any questions or concerns she had while getting to know him. But like any horse, it is different for every rider. Jenny worked at developing her own partnership wit him. For example, she uses a different bit than I do with Kix.
Jenn and I are close friends which made it easier for me to part with this special horse. They get along extremely well, so it was an easy transition for him. It is amazing for me to watch their success together and to know Kix has the best home.

Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Lauren,

I like to compete both in North America and in Europe - I am lucky I get to do both! The shows are very different, but I don't think one is better than the other. I grew up competing in America so there is history and memories there, and that will always be home. I really enjoy the culture around the shows in Europe, though. The two are very different!

Thanks for the question.

Lillie

Hi David,

Since I go to shows in Europe and North America, I am close to different riders depending on the show! I am closest with my barn mates, Emily Short and Nikki Walker and of course my trainers and the team at Karlswood. In America, my closest long term friends at the shows are Daisy Farish, and Jenn Gates.

Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Adeline,

My riding is entirely separate from my studies at Harvard, but the extensive options for classes makes it possible for me to pursue both my academics and riding. I often know the class schedules in the beginning of the semester so I can plan out my shows. I am also very lucky to have professors and teaching assistants that make it possible for me to keep up with my school work even when I have to miss lectures.

Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Norman,

I am focused myself on developing my own riding at the moment, but I cannot keep my horses forever! Eventually, I would like to focus on both of these aspects of the business.

Thanks for the question!

Lillie

Hi Alexia,

For next year, I plan to work with some of my younger mounts to move up the levels and to compete as a consistent contender in the Grand Prix ring. I'd like to do some more Nations Cup Teams and to pursue the 5 star level with Super Sox. I've had some amazing top results with Sox at the 5 star level grand prix, and it would be amazing to win one next year!

Thanks for the question

Lillie