Gabby Frederick just added two more ribbons to the bountiful case of awards that sits in her bedroom.
The 13-year-old eighth-grader at Islander Middle School recently returned from the Interscholastic Equestrian Association National Competition in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with a pair of third-place ribbons in the middle-school jumping and flat-riding realms.
Gabby treads in the horse-riding footsteps of her mother, Kim, who used to participate in the sport. The youngster began riding about six years ago for fun, but soon took on a competitive edge and has earned heaps of ribbons — many first-placers — along the way.
Sporting her pair of lucky socks — dotted with seahorses of all colors — and blue-ribbon earrings, Gabby breathes deeply and tells herself that she can succeed during competitions.
After winning the zone finals in her two events, the rider from Sharkey Farm of Snoqualmie qualified for nationals for the third consecutive year. The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the pandemic, and Gabby came up short of winning any ribbons last year.
Gabby turned things around in a big way this time out and was brimming with confidence. She learned how to keep any nervousness in check.
“This year, I figured it out and was more familiar with what it would be like and what the competition would be like. I was able to do better than I did last year,” said Gabby, who shone with her horse on the jumps and controlled the equines effectively on the flat to earn the ribbons.
She had never ridden the horses at nationals before and a quick connection was necessary before entering the arena.
“There’s not really a chance to build that bond with the horses, but that’s kind of where the difficulty is because you’re kind of building a bond as you’re on the horse,” she said. “(I’m) being as kind and as light as I can be. That gives me the opportunity to let the horse do what they want to do instead of having to fight with them while I’m riding them.”
She finds the bonding experience crucial with both the horses and with her teammates while they’re training for competitions and having a good time with their sport.
The Reporter asked Frederick a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life:
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
I love “Moana.”
What superpower would you like to have?
I think it would be to read other people’s emotions to better see how I could help them.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m also a soccer player. I play for Eastside FC. I’m also in the school choir.
Do you ever find yourself singing to yourself when you’re out there riding?
Oh, yeah. I do. I do it to help me with pace and time. One of my old trainers had me singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” the whole time I would go around over fences and stuff. Even if it was quietly or in my head, she’d have me always singing it.
Feeding off of that, what type of music do you like to listen to?
I like pop music, especially 2000s pop. I have this playlist that I always listen to.
What’s your favorite restaurant on Mercer Island?
Yuzen (sushi eatery).