10 Questions with Show Jumper Christine McCrea

Thanks to the USEF Facebook fans for these questions for U.S. Team Show Jumper Christine McCrea.Thanks to the USEF Facebook fans for these questions for U.S. Team Show Jumper Christine McCrea.

Story originally posted by: by Stephanie Doyle

Thanks to the USEF Facebook fans for these questions for U.S. Team Show Jumper Christine McCrea. For the next "10 Questions With…" visit www.facebook.com/USEquestrian

Christine McCrea
East Windsor, CT
Age: 32

Victoria Kelley: What is your training schedule like?

Tuesday through Sunday and I ride the horses. Monday is the day off for them and me. If I am going to a show the next week I might jump them once the week before through some gymnastics and most likely on Thursday or Friday.

Cassandra Redden: I'm looking for a horse to buy. How do you know when that horse is the one for you?

You don't always know and that's the plain old truth. You have to pick a horse that you think will complement the style of your riding and a horse that has the most qualities that you like. I look for a horse that is athletic, and has a little bit of blood. Then, I look at their character while I'm riding them to see how they respond to me. In the end, you need to just get a feeling in your gut and then try your best to make it work with whichever horse you end up buying.

Rachel Natoli: Where is your favorite place to compete?

Anywhere there is a grand prix!

Teresa Ball: What hardships/setbacks have you gone through, and how have you overcome them?

I think I've had the typical hardships where horses go lame and you can't show, or times when I've hurt myself and can't show. But you get through them like everyone else by doing the best you can and trying to keep a good attitude about whatever the situation is. Sometimes it's not fun and it seems unfair, but that's life and you get through it.

Kate M. Severson: When you were young did you always know you wanted to ride professionally or was it something you discovered a little later in life and what steps did you take to get where you are now?

In my younger days I was surrounded by great people – Leslie Howard, Molly Ashe, Bruce Burr. They taught me the most about horses in general. And it was a few years after I left them that I realized I wanted to be a professional. Basically, I just decided to go off on my own and the next day I did it. There were good days and bad days, but that's normal. It was difficult without having someone on the ground to help me. But then I met my husband, Jonathan McCrea, who competes at the grand-prix level also, and now we have each other to fall back on. That's what changed it around for me. The only people that I couldn't have done without are my parents. They believed in me right from the beginning of my turning professional and have been huge supports throughout my career. With everything I learned from Leslie and Molly, my husband Jon, and the support from my family, I am able to be where I am today. And I am thankful to each one of them.

Maureen Barksdale: Who do you admire most and why?

I admire Beezie Madden because she is a beautiful rider and a hard worker. She wrote the book on what it takes to be a top professional.

Heather Hartland: Do you get nervous before competitions? If so, how do you handle the nerves or do you just ride through them?

I'm not going to lie and tell you I don't get nervous because I do. But usually I get the most nervous if I have to sit and wait for my turn. When that happens and I feel myself getting nervous, I just tell myself, 'OK, there's that feeling again. Ignore it and you will be totally fine once you get on.' And usually I get on and it's gone and I'm happy to be jumping and getting ready for the course. I kind of like that nervous feeling now because it means I am doing the sport I love and I want to be the best I can be. Nerves are a good thing. You just need to learn how to handle them and make them work for you.

Kelly Reed Shaw: In those last moments before entering the arena, what thoughts go through your mind and what's the one thing you want your horse to focus on?

I just go over the course as many times as I can in my head as I'm walking to the ring. The last thing I think of before I go is to keep my eyes up and make sure the horse is in front of my leg before I get to the first jump.

Kristen Blankenship: What challenges have you had to face to make it to the top, and how hard is it to become a top equestrian?

One challenge I've faced in this sport is that it's easy to make it to the top, but it's a whole different ballgame to stay there. You need sound horses and to be a top horseman, to know where your horses should be showing, if they need to see the vet, or if they need a break to freshen up. It almost takes a sixth sense to know what is the right thing to do. The top professionals are more right than wrong. That's something you learn in time and from experience. And the cool part is, the horses tell you in their own ways how they are feeling. It's just up to you to find the clues.

Jacqueline Masculin-Simone: What motivates you to keep riding and not give up even if there are tough times you have to endure?

My husband motivates me through the tough times. He has a surprisingly positive attitude and I always know I can cry on his shoulder if I need to.

Nickname: Chrissy

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite city: Boston

Favorite horse: Vegas

Favorite non-horse pet: Kaley-pie, my dog

Favorite beverage: Diet Pepsi

Favorite actress: Natalie Portman

Favorite movie: "The holiday"

Addiction: Diet Pepsi every morning

Dislike: Laundry