We at Park are thrilled to introduce our newest ambassador, Team USA Equestrian rider Kelly Soleau-Millar! Kelly is a member of the notable "First Family of Show Jumping" that includes her husband Jonathon Millar, sister-in-law Amy Millar, and father-in-law, 10-time Olympian Ian Millar who compete for the Canadian Equestrian Team. Kelly has successfully competed in many FEI competitions and respectfully represented the USA Team at the 2018 Nations Cup in Xalapa, Mexico. Kelly manages Bridge Brook Arms her family farm in Wellington, Florida as well as rides and trains alongside Jonathon, Amy and Ian at Millar Brooke Farm. Upon Kelly joining us at Park, we had the pleasure of sitting down with her to ask some questions about her career and style.
Finish this sentence. "Because of Equestrian, I….."
…have the best career in the world! I am so fortunate to make a living from the sport of show jumping. While the hours are long and some days are stressful, whenever I am in the saddle I am able to block out all of the distractions and focus on working with my horse to bring out our best performance. This sport has created so many opportunities, I have met countless amazing people, and of course I am always surrounded by these amazing horses.
What is on your equestrian bucket list?
I have been lucky to have crossed a number of items off my bucket list already! This past year I represented the United States in team competition and I have previously had the opportunity to compete in night classes at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. That said, there are still a few items on my list!
The sport of show jumping has really expanded over the past few decades. There are now competitions at the most beautiful and elegant venues around the world, such as Prague, Monaco and Shanghai. I would love to take a year dedicated to competing at these venues while experiencing the culture and history that each city has to offer. In addition to competing at these famous venues, I would also like to win a major Grand Prix, and continue to represent the United States at more team competitions!
Describe a day in the life.
This is a tough question – no two days are the same! Typically I wake up at 6am. After a quick breakfast, and taking care of my three welsh corgis, I will head to the barn to train a few horses. Students typically show up a bit later in the day, at which time I will work with them and their horses – I love teaching! Typically the day at the barn finishes around 5. I will then try to catch a pilates class or a quick workout before dinner.
How would you describe your competition style, and how does Park accentuate it?
Details, details, details! In equestrian sport every little detail matters. As riders, we not only plan for ourselves, but we also have to make sure everything is perfect for our 1200 lb partners. Also, I have to be very focused and immersed in my environment to try to predict how the horse will respond to every possible scenario. Park aligns very well with my values and approach to life, as the products are designed with detail in mind.
You've succeeded at a number of high profile competitions. How do you mentally prepare for competitions?
As mentioned above, I aim to be prepared and focused on the small details. I strongly believe that confidence comes from the feeling that you have done everything correctly and that you have the best plan to succeed. The second I start second guessing a decision I know I am in trouble.
What are some lessons you’ve learned so far?
The sport of show jumping has taught me many important life lessons. First, to be successful in life you need to be resilient. When dealing with a 1200 lb animal there will always be days that do not go as planned – I always remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and sometimes all you can do is learn from your failures. Second, dedication and passion will take you far in life. If you are willing to work hard and come to the barn every day motivated to learn with a positive mindset, you can accomplish great things. Finally, empathy is a very important yet overlooked trait. Being able to see life from multiple viewpoints allows you to become a better friend, rider and businesswoman.
How do you get better at the sport?
Commitment is the key for improving in equestrian sports. There are no shortcuts to sustained success. Each day is a new lesson and the people who reach the top are the people who always show up to the barn ready to learn.
What are some words of advice you can give for those who want to succeed in equestrian?
My biggest piece of advice would be to never say no to new experiences. Instead, always be open to new opportunities. The horse world can be very hectic and at times it is tempting to stay in your comfort zone – but this approach will stunt your growth in the long run. Compete at numerous venues, ride as many horses as you can, and talk to as many experienced coaches as possible. All of these experiences will enhance your skillset for whatever the future holds!