Gabby Foos started riding horses when she was 4 as a distraction while her mother was going through breast cancer treatments. Gabby, entering 10th grade in the Red Wing School District, has been riding ever since and now competes across the region in hunter/jumper competitions.
“It is my sport,” Gabby said. “I like the partnership and connection between my horse. I like the challenge – it is a lot harder than it looks. I hope to one day to compete in college and make it part of my career.”
Gabby’s grandfather instilled in her the love of horses from an early age and would take her on trail rides.
“They would pretend to ride in horse races on the backyard swings,” Emily Guida Foos, Gabby’s mom and director of Red Wing Arts, said.
When Emily was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2010, the family thought professional horse riding lessons would be a good outlet for Gabby. Emily went through six months of chemo and had a bilateral mastectomy.
“Surviving the cancer journey truly makes you realize life is a gift,” Emily said. “As a mother of a young child, it was so important to provide my daughter with opportunities, tools and enjoyment in life.”
As Gabby continued to ride horses, her hobby grew into a lifelong passion. She was 9 when she entered in her first competition in Georgia doing flat work with ground polls.
In 2016, when the family relocated to Red Wing, they found Wild Rose Stables in Webster that offered jumping lessons. Gabby now trains three to four times a week there with her trainers Tal Mizrahi and Kirsten Priebe.
Gabby competed in her first hunter/jumper competition in 2018 on her first hunter, Shadow.
“Competitions are so fun – it’s a time when you get to put all that you learned into it,” Gabby said.
This past December, Emily and Gabby purchased Santiago “Santi,” a 9-year-old gelding thoroughbred and trained jumper.
“He is super sweet but really likes to go fast and can be a bit crazy,” Gabby said. “I have only owned Santi for a few months, so we are still building our relationship and learning how to compete together. Both Santi and I are athletes, so it is my job to make sure he can do his best. You can tell when he is proud of himself.”
Gabby and Santi competed in their first competition together this spring in Omaha. They placed first in warm-up, sixth in the .75 meter and Santi placed second in the .75 meter with trainer Mizrahi riding him.
Gabby’s long-term goal is to compete in the Grand Prix competition and is excited to continue to build her relationship with Santi.