Katie Alms has been in the midst of all those riders she admires, competing with the best of them in the FEI levels. At the recent Welcome Back to White Fences II, she was near the top of the score board in the FEI Prix St. Georges, finishing second with a score of 66.25 percent, just behind first-place finisher Susan Jaccoma and her score of 69.50 percent.
Having decided that she didn’t want to spend another winter training in the cold, the 20-year-old college sophomore asked Jennifer Baumert, with whom she has trained for the past two years, if she could work for her in Florida. Baumert said yes and Alms packed up her bags and took along her horse, Roodeport II, an 11-year-old Bavarian Warmblood by Rohdiamant.
Florida Weather Has More to Offer than Sunny Days
Ask Katie Alms what she’s most enjoyed about her first season showing in Florida and she’ll tell you it’s the weather. Most winters she’s back home in Connecticut.
“It’s been really nice. It definitely plays a role because you can ride your horse every day and enjoy it,” she said. “I decided that I didn’t want to stay another winter in Connecticut. It’s hard to ride. Last winter in Connecticut, I rode and trained throughout the winter and I think it was a great opportunity to learn a lot more and get experience, but at the same time, if you don’t ride when it’s 25 or below then you end up having to take a whole week off now and then.”
Weather may be number one, but it’s not the only thing she’s enjoyed about Florida. “I also love that everything is so close. You can see all these horses and see all these competitions. You just drive 15 minutes here and there and you can watch all these great riders. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Experience the Key to Reaching Riding Goals
Although she came to Florida with plans of qualifying for this summer’s National Junior Young Rider Championships, Alms said she hasn’t placed well enough to make it to this year’s championships. Still, she views her first Florida season in a very positive light because she’s learning lots from the experience, including how to calm her nerves.
“I think the season has been going well. I think of this as more of a learning experience and I think that our scores can be better,” Alms said. “I think I get a little intimidated and nervous and sometimes I don’t do the best that I can. I’m not sure why but I just get nervous and usually it’s not too far before the competition. It’s just that right before I go in the ring, I get really nervous and I think it’s some fear of hearing what the judges will say.”
The time in Florida is giving her the opportunity to do a lot of showing and mileage is what Alms is hoping will help calm her nerves. In addition to the shows, being in Florida puts Alms in a position to easily take advantage of other educational opportunities. During the recent Junior/Young Riders Clinic she got the chance to ride with Edward Gal. “The experiences and opportunities that I’ve had have been really great.”
Pre Med Student Continues Her Studies
In a sense, Alms is gaining the riding education by trading a bit on her college education. She’s a pre-med student at the University of Connecticut and being in Florida means she’s not in school. “When I decided that I wanted to come to Florida, I wasn’t sure how my parents would take it because I was a full-time student. I didn’t know what they’d say about me practically taking a whole semester off, but when I mentioned it to them, they were very supportive.”
She has kept her education going by taking a class at Palm Beach Community College and this summer, she’ll take summer classes when back in Connecticut. Her ultimate career goal is to become a doctor, which will hopefully support her riding habit down the road.
Alms is already making plans to come back to Florida next year, working again for Baumert. “Jen is great. She really strengthens my conviction and love for the sport. She and her mother, Beth, have been great at helping me.”
The way Alms sees it, she should take the opportunities now to train and show in Florida because once in medical school, things will change. “Then school will definitely be the priority and that time will be here soon.” But for now, Alms is greatly enjoying her first Florida season, especially since she’s getting to spend it with her good friend, Roodoport II, with whom she’s developed a better and better relationship as the season has moved along.
“He’s such a handsome guy. His behavior is awesome and I couldn’t have asked for a better temperament in a horse,” she said. “He’s so willing. He’ll do anything you ask, but you do have to be very correct. We’re working on fine tuning all the points and we’re on an uphill roll now.”