Interviews/Opinions

In Conversation with Chloe D. Reid, Sportsperson and Co-President of the Live Oak International

Chloe D. Reid is part of a well-renowned equestrian family, her grandmother, Charlotte Weber, has a very successful thoroughbred racehorse operation, and her uncle, Chester Weber is the 20-time U.S. national champion for four-in-hand driving. At the tender age of four Chloe’s love of horses was ignited. Chloe has expanded the equestrian disciplines of her family by adding show jumping to thoroughbred racing and four-in-hand combined driving.

In addition to representing the US Show Jumping team on multiple occasions, Chloe also serves as Co-President of the Live Oak International tournament held each year at her family’s farm in Ocala, Florida. Read on to discover more about this prestigious event and Chloe’s exciting career so far.

You studied Political Science and English along with Sports Medicine at University but chose to follow a career in the equestrian world – was this always a route you wanted to pursue?

My education was a mix of random topics but they all have a reason! I started studying political science because I grew up in Washington DC and politics and US history came very naturally to me having grown up in a city surrounded by it. I then added a second major of English when a teacher from high school who had a huge influence on my life passed away suddenly and I wanted to make him proud.

Finally, sports medicine I found at the end of university, but wish I would have explored further as the human body is so similar to an equine. I found studying human muscle groups and nutrition fascinating to apply to my horses.

Not receiving an education was never an option having two parents who are not equestrians themselves. However, I loved studying. I would go back to school, and maybe I will one day, if I had more time or a clear track of what to pursue. Horses will always be my passion though. While my degree might not be equine-related, everything I learned studying made me better suited to be the competitor I am today.

Describe a typical day for you – if such a thing exists!

A typical day for me is going to the stables early. Living in Florida, you have to ride earlier in the day before it gets too hot. My afternoons are then spent on the computer or phone doing work for Live Oak International. I work out almost every afternoon and have a very close family which eats big family-style dinners 99% of the time so when I am not riding or working my time is with my family.

The Live Oak International (LOI) tournament is hosted on your family farm, please tell us more about how this came about and what it takes to organise such a major and prestigious event.

LOI is heading into its 33rd year. In 1992, my grandmother welcomed the opportunity to utilise the stunning grounds of Live Oak Stud to host the marathon portion of the Ocala Arabian Complex, a local driving competition. We hosted the marathon for a few years and when Chester graduated from university, he started his involvement with the event and moved all three phases of the driving to the farm in 1999. In 2010 when I went to LOI to watch Chester compete I asked my mom why we couldn’t have a jumping competition at the event also since we already had the ring and everything set up. From there the spark took off! This will be the 12th year of having both jumping and driving at LOI.

Running an event of this level is no easy task! I think many people don’t understand everything that goes into running a show. My boyfriend thinks I am crazy to do it and is always asking me why I put myself through the stress haha!

It is a weird adrenaline rush for me during the event. I am exhausted and my brain is going in so many different directions, but I always finish the show week sad that it is over and ready for the next year!

I couldn’t do the show without our amazing team. Ainsley Hayes, our director of sponsorship, has been with us for all 12 years. Walter Makker, our logistics director and now director of sport has been with us for 5 years. Mitja, who does our driving course designing, I think has been attending LOI longer than I am alive. I am really proud of the group of people we have on our team and honestly consider them more family at this point.

And does being the host add an extra level of pressure?

I am a competitive perfectionist so in everything I do I want to be the best and absolutely perfect in execution. I think I give myself the most pressure than anyone else to host a great tournament. I often must remind myself when something doesn’t go 100% how we planned it that I am the only one who will notice that it wasn’t how it was meant to go.

I also normally compete at LOI myself which adds another level of excitement.

This is the tournament’s 33rd year, how has the event evolved and what does the future hold for it?

Chester is a big-picture guy and is always looking for the show to grow. I think because of his visions and motivation to improve we have developed a lot over the years. What started as just a driving show, now hosts jumping, driving, youth drivers, para drivers, a USEF national championship, 16,000 spectators, 200 volunteers and so much more over four days.

My dream for LOI is for the show to remain the boutique beautiful event that it is and to grow both combined driving and show jumping in the US. In our sport, unfortunately, many individual week shows are dying as it is very difficult financially for them to run, so I hope that we can continue to host a world-class event.

This year is particularly special as it represents the last opportunity for U.S. riders to secure a spot in the 2024 Longines FEI World CupTM Final, which will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Will there be any extra special celebrations to mark this milestone occasion?

Winning the Grand Prix on Sunday at Live Oak International is like winning the trifecta. You win the title of LOI Grand Prix which includes the prize of $200,000, points towards the World Cup final, and of course, bragging rights!

Equestrian sport doesn’t feature in mainstream media as frequently as other (high-investment) sports, how do you feel about this and would you like to see more to be done to raise its profile?

I would love for our sport to be as popular as other sports and for riders to be treated like any other professional athlete. I think equestrian sports are insanely cool and it wouldn’t be hard to get the mainstream audience. I think our federations and FEI should invest in more marketing to grow the sport and bring in corporate sponsors. I think we need to utilise technology more and make the sport easier for the public to understand. For example, when you watch skiing, they have live trackers on the skis to show you the split times in real time of how fast people are going. Why can’t our sport use this technology and be able to show spectators just how fast riders are going?

Or even last week my grandmother was watching the live-streamed Grand Prix in Wellington and there was no running scoreboard on the side of the screen for her to follow and know how I stood against others. I think simple things could make this sport easier for non-horse people to understand which would go miles towards making our sport more popular. I think when people can understand it they will follow it.

Luxury is highly subjective – what does it mean to you personally?

The time and wherewithal to go beyond just basic necessities and to be able to help others. The thing we are all striving for!

Finally, what is your life motto?

Everything happens for a reason. Pressure is a privilege.

Find out more about Live Oak International here.