Kelly Soleau-Millar Offers Words of Positivity to Young Riders in Quarantine
Competition might be on hold, but Team BioStar’s Kelly Soleau-Millar hasn’t let that slow her down. She and her husband Jonathon Millar have made the most out of the downtime at their Wellington farm by spending time with their family and enjoying quality time with their horses and dogs. While she misses the show ring and is excited to get back to what she loves, she is also finding the little blessings in this time at home and has been taking the time to prepare her horses so that when life goes back to normal, they are ready to take on the world! Find out Kelly’s tips and tricks on utilizing past videos to make your present-self better and hear her advice to all of the younger riders who might have had to rearrange their goals due to show cancellations in this week’s edition of BioStar Silver Linings.
What are some things you have been working on at home?
My husband and I have been trying to stay fit as we can, so we have been biking and running in the evenings. We are also fortunate enough to stay with my mother in Wellington, so we have been spending some quality time with family as well as our horses and dogs. We have been really enjoying life at home catching up on projects around the farm and trying to make the best of our current situation. At the end of the day, it is very different. It’s hard not knowing when we will be able to travel and compete again, but we are very fortunate to be with family and be able to continue to train!
@ksmillar##couplechallege ##quaretinechallenges ##stayathome♬ Piece Of Your Heart – Meduza & Goodboys
What has the extra time without competing allowed you to do?
We are fortunate enough to live on the farm, so we have been able to continue to ride and train. I have been using this time to really work on breaking it down and getting back to the basics. We’ve been focusing on flatwork, as well as doing gymnastics and jumping them to keep them fit.
Has your focus had to shift from your original big-ticket goals this year, and if so, what is next on your agenda?
My focus this year was my horse Cacharel, and also a string of younger up-and-coming ones. With Cacharel, I have been focused on working towards being competitive in the 4 and 5* Grand Prix, as well as trying to represent the USA in Nations Cups competitions. Obviously, at this point in time and with so much uncertainty, we are unsure if we will be able to show FEI or be able to show at all. As for my younger ones, the focus was and still is preparing them to step up into FEI competitions. Unfortunately for some of my students, we just learned that Young Riders has been canceled. For one of my students, this was her last year to compete in Young Riders, so she won’t be able to get that experience again. It’s hard and discouraging for everyone right now, but it is important to stay as positive as we can.
What would you like to say to riders, like your student, who will have to miss out on the NAYC or other goals that they were preparing for?
Young Riders would have been great, yes, however you have to stay positive and shift your focus on new and exciting things such as competing in international classes, FEI 2 and 3* Grand Prix. You have to keep focusing on the future and work on pushing yourself up to that 2 and 3* level and work towards getting involved in some of the developing tours that will run again one day, and the U25 classes and team competitions. Don’t focus on being disappointed that you weren’t able to have the young riders experience but focus on the future and what is ahead! When I was younger, all you really had was Young Riders. Now they offer so much more. You just have to look to the future and go from there!
What exercises would you encourage other riders to incorporate in their daily riding during this time?
Now is the time to practice those things you are struggling with. For us, we have been spending time identifying areas where we as riders and our horses might be weak in the competition ring and determining what we can do to make that better. I think each horse and rider is a different case. One horse of mine, for instance, can jump beautiful clean rounds but end up being too slow. We have been working on practicing more of a jump off setting, which we never really do at home. We aren’t setting the jumps big but setting tighter turn backs and just making my horse and myself think and be quicker as a combination. With some of the younger horses we have been doing gymnastics, and focusing on flatwork, and getting them to listen better. I think each horse and rider is specific, and you should go through and find where your weaknesses might be in the show ring and then do what you can to work towards trying to make that better.
What would you recommend for people who cannot go to the barn or ride right now?
I would suggest focusing on fitness in yourself. I think it is so important to keep yourself as fit as possible, even though this is a nice time to rest and relax, we are athletes! We need to stay strong as we can and work on becoming even stronger then we were. We can take this as an opportunity to work on areas that you are weak. I also find it very helpful to go back and watch videos of myself and the different horses that I ride and really analyze my rounds. You can identify where you can improve things or why you might have won or lost just by a few seconds. That can help you determine what you need to work on. You can also watch all of the resources available online right now, like the Masterclass or replays of different Grand Prix classes around the world. You can learn and watch and see what different people are doing that might work for you.
Besides riding, what else have you been doing during the quarantine?
I have really been enjoying just spending time with my horses and our dogs. Hanging out and making some funny videos, as well as teaching my new puppy Shorty about the barn and horses. We have been teaching him how to behave around the horses and be careful around them, as well as teaching him some other fun tricks!
@ksmillarJust another day in the life ##shortythecorgi ##quarentinelife ##stayhome♬ Wicked Witch Theme (as made famous by The Wizard Of Oz) – The Horror Pop Ensemble
Competing as a professional, Kelly works full-time as a rider, trainer, and the manager of Millar Brooke Farm. She continues to ride for her family’s farm, Bridge Brook Arms, based in Wellington, FL. A true animal lover, Kelly is rarely seen without her pack of Welsh corgis in tow. Kelly and her top mount, Cacharel began competing together during the 2017 season and, based on impressive results at the international level, were named to the United States Equestrian Team for the €250,000 CSIO5* Longines Nations’ Cup in Coapexpan, Mexico, marking Kelly’s Nations’ Cup debut.