Remember the name: find out why 25-year-old Spencer Smith is being tipped as a future star

  • US showjumper Spencer Smith is enjoying an exhilarating purple patch on the European showjumping circuit. Most recently he and his top horse Theodore Manciais (Kashmir Van Schuttershof x Power Light) have earned podium spots in the Longines Global Champions Tour of Cannes and Saint Tropez, but the 25-year-old has caught the eye since exploding onto the international scene in recent years. It’s no wonder top riders such as Eric Lamaze and Daniel Deusser have touted him as a future star in the sport.

    “Everyone in my family is involved in horses, my parents have a big training and sales operation in America and they are a huge inspiration to me, so I have grown up with horses in my life,” says Spencer.

    “When I was 15, I went to train and work for Eric Lamaze. I was with Eric for five years, and he has really been my mentor in the sport. We have travelled the world together, and he was the one who first took me to Europe to compete. I have learned so much from him and really appreciate the chances he gave me. I really admire Daniel Deusser and love the way he rides, too – I try to emulate his style in my riding.”

    Spencer finished just 0.28sec behind his idol and mentor Daniel Deusser in last weekend’s Cannes grand prix.

    “I met Daniel when I was 15 and I really look up to him as a person and a rider,” says Spencer. “I have always been fixated on his riding and his way of doing things. We have similar builds and so I have always watched him. As the years went on, we have become really close, and I consider him one of my best friends in the sport. I train at Stephex Stables over the summer, and they really treat me as part of their family. I try to ride around Daniel as much as I can and watch what he does. I try to learn as much as I can from him.

    “There are so many riders that I look up to and we have some great riders in the USA, including McLain Ward, Jessica Springsteen, Beezie Madden, Kent Farrington and Laura Kraut, who are so incredible. They are obviously talented and very helpful when I’m looking for a bit of advice.”

    Among Spencer’s plans for the rest of 2022 are Nations Cups and he’s hoping to be selected for the showjumping World Championships in the summer.

    “I hope 2022 is going to be the best year so far for me,” he says. “I would also love to be part of all the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors. That is a big goal for me and is definitely one of my main ambitions for this year.”

    Spencer Smith: “Showjumping is a balance between patience and drive”

    So what attributes does Spencer Smith believe make a successful showjumper?

    “I think that you have to be competitive, but you also have to be able to take the losses,” he says. “In showjumping, you lose a lot more than you win, so you have to be able to cope with the ups and downs of the sport. Often when things don’t go well it is easy to want to change everything, but you just have to take a step back and make sure you are doing the basic things right. I think to be the best and win the biggest classes you need to have the balance between patience and drive.”

    As well as his top horse, the 15-year-old Theodore Manciais, Spencer competes Georgina Bloomberg’s Quibelle, with whom he jumped a clear for Team USA in the FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.

    “We have had some great results, and I think she is going to be my top horse for big team events,” says Spencer. “I am really excited about her. I feel very lucky to have such great support from Georgina and her team, Jimmy Doyle is her trainer, who also helps me now. It’s a great relationship, we go to most of the same shows and I get to take advice and tips from Georgina and Jimmy.

    “My team is crucial – they make the whole thing go round. I have a great group of grooms and managers, as well as an excellent vet and farrier. Without even one of them the whole thing would not work. When I win a big class or a grand prix, it is really nice, but it is really the team behind me that makes it possible. It is like any other sport, such as Formula 1, the team is vital to the success of the rider. When things don’t go well it’s tough because you feel like you are letting your team down, as they work so hard for your success.”

    “Surround yourself with good people”

    Spencer Smith is a true horseman and loves working with his horses, “being able to create a partnership with your horse and pushing your relationship to the limit to achieve things that you never thought were possible”.

    “The camaraderie at the shows with all the riders is very fun, we are all in it for the same reason,” says Spencer. “It’s really fulfilling to compete against so many talented riders. We all try to help each other, and even when you don’t win you are still happy for the other riders.

    “I think there are a lot of ways to get to the top and a lot of different avenues within the sport,” says the world number 71 ranked rider about ascending the levels as a young rider. “Surrounding yourself with good people and making the most of any opportunities makes a big difference.

    “I am very lucky because my parents are quite well known in the sport and so they have helped me with my career. I have been able to train with some of the top riders in our sport, which has been an excellent opportunity for me. I am very fortunate to have the right people behind me which has allowed me to reach some of my many goals.”

    Talking about the key events in the showjumping calendar such as the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, Spencer says: “It’s really the peak of the sport. If you win the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping you have transcended the sport and you have achieved something that people will speak of for generations. I think it really changes the game and the next person that wins it will not be forgotten. I wake up every morning with this goal in mind.

    “Currently, I really believe Daniel Deusser is knocking at the door and I have a feeling that he will be the one to do it next. He has a great team of horses, and people, and he has a really cool head in the big moments.”

    With thanks to Rolex.

    You may also like to read…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...