Saugerties, N.Y. – A front row seat to the action at the Pfizer Million Grand Prix was exciting for West Point Cadet Naomi Fuhrman, but not quite as exciting as having the honor of singing the National Anthem at the opening ceremony. “Wow. I have never done anything like this before,” said the West Point sophomore. She admitted to a bit of nerves, but not for herself. She worried most about not doing her team and her country proud. “It was not for my own glory, but for my nation and my team,” she said. Fuhrman’s “team” is the U.S. Military Academy’s Equestrian Team, which also served as the Color Guard for the opening ceremony at the event, held September 12 at HITS-on-the Hudson.
Fuhrman grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota where she honed her equestrian skills riding dressage. “I started with Western riding, but quickly switched to English and then rode dressage for about four years,” she said. She got her first horse at the age of 11 – a two-year-old that taught her a lot.
“He’s 11 now and I learned through training him. My coach basically taught me how to train him and that’s how I learned about horsemanship and training horses,” she said. Fuhrman had a bit of jumping experience while growing up in South Dakota, but the action she saw at the Pfizer Million, the richest show jumping grand prix in history, was unlike anything she had seen before.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “I haven’t really had much experience with jumping. The East Coast is a very different equestrian environment. I’m seeing things here in the East that I had only seen before on TV. It’s really exciting.”
As a member of West Point’s Equestrian Team, Fuhrman competes in English equitation, which she said is also a bit of a new experience for her, but one she really likes. Her other love is clearly music. She said her parents are very much into music and she sang in the high school choir. She did take some voice lessons while growing up, “but nothing big. I haven’t really had any professional training.”
At West Point, she sings in the Chapel choir and it was her teammates on the Equestrian Team who suggested her for the opening ceremony honor. “I was at home on two weeks of leave at the end of the summer and I got an email from a teammate and one of my coaches, Sherry Cashman, saying that they wanted me to sing at the Grand Prix. I was like, ‘Sure, if you need someone.’ So, I did it.”
Fuhrman called the experience a great lesson and one that she would happily do again. “It was a lot of fun and great experience for me. It was a little bit of a confidence booster.” And, despite the difficulty of the U.S. National Anthem, Fuhrman didn’t falter.