The familiar name of Brandi Cyrus was among those featured in the start-lists at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala last week.
The 33-year-old daughter of US singer-songwriter Billy Ray and sister of global singing phenomenon Miley Cyrus, is a busy lady, performing as a DJ, hosting podcasts and blogging.
But her number one passion is horses and she’s currently competing at the Florida venue with her up-and-coming jumper, Starpower.
Brandi learnt to ride from her Achy Breaky Heart father Billy Ray Cyrus when she was six years old.
“I was very fortunate that, when my dad got his record deal in the early 90s, he took his money and bought a ton of land in Tennessee, so I grew up on a horse farm,” she said. “My dad put me on a horse and just said, ‘Have at it.’ It was a ‘hold on and figure it out’ kind of thing and I spent almost every day riding on the property with him.”
Brandi was inspired to try jumping at an English horse camp.
“I immediately became obsessed with it,” she said. “I got a pony and started Pony Club, which was super fun.
“It introduced me to eventing and taught me a lot about how to take care of my horse. I learned everything from nutrition to wrapping to veterinary care and I’m so fortunate to have that background. We did our rallies at the Kentucky Horse Park and at a nice place in Tennessee.
“I evented through preliminary level, but at that height the thought of the jumps not falling was a little scary. It was thrilling and fun, and I do miss it sometimes.”
Brandi rode on her college’s equestrian team for a year before the whole family moved out to California, which is when younger sister Miley was cast as Hannah Montana, and the rest is history.
Brandi, meanwhile, had turned her hand to showjumping.
“I have my youngest sister, Noah, to thank for that,” she said. “When we were out in California she wanted to learn how to ride. My mom took her to a trainer there and she began taking hunter/jumper lessons. I started going with her because I was knowledgeable about horses. The trainer offered for me to ride, which got me back into it.
“Noah really leaned into the hunter side of things and started riding at Far West Farms with Jenny Karazissis. I started riding with Kost Karazissis and I had so much fun training with him. He’s an amazing trainer and I learned so much from him. Noah and I showed on the West Coast circuit together for about four years. We weren’t super close growing up because of the age gap, so showing really brought us together. We made such great memories.
“We joke that my mom had a mid-life crisis and bought me a very nice pre-green hunter. I had zero experience riding hunters. It was an adventure and it was very fun. We competed up through the A/Os out on the West Coast and I liked the hunters, but the jumpers were more my style.”
Brandi moved back to Tennessee, where she feels “most at home” on her “mini farm” and started riding with Dani Grice at Hunters Court Stable. Her seven-year-old Starpower is a horse she thinks a great deal of, having ridden her for the past year.
“I bought her from Europe on a whim off of a video,” explains Brandi. “She is a lot of things including very talented, very athletic and very green. She’s a little nuts, but I think with some mileage and some good training she is going to be awesome.
“My hope is that I will finally have something that takes me into the A/Os. I’ve kind of been stuck in the adult amateur division and I finally have one that has the potential, if we do our homework.”
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Of her experience competing at the World Equestrian Center – Ocala, Brandi said: “It’s beautiful here, like a dream come true. You see the photos and we have all been laughing because it looks just like it does on Instagram. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve shown at a lot of places. They really thought of everything.
“The footing is amazing and the big stadium ring is unbelievable,” she added. “I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in a ring that large. It’s a big stage and it feels good. I think we’re going to make this a regular winter destination.”
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