I am beyond excited to share this months feature individual for “10 Questions With…” Noelle Floyd has taken what started as a blog and turned it into one, if not the, foremost source of information for all things equestrian. She has managed to market her magazine to not only our industry, but also to individuals outside of the equine sports. Keep reading to find out more on this awesome entrepreneur and fellow Canadian!
How did Noelle Floyd start?
I started Noelle Floyd as a blog in my bedroom in Brussels, Belgium. I had been riding for Belgium’s Mark van Djick and learning a lot. I had moved to Belgium after a summer riding for Chris Pratt in California. I understood, after a pretty unsuccessful summer series at Spruce Meadows, that I needed to go to Europe and learn so much more.
It was in seeking that knowledge in Europe that I learnt I could help bring it back to North America. That is first and foremost the inspiration behind the Noelle Floyd.com platform, to close the gap and bring the world of horse sport a bit closer together.
It was after riding young horses at the Sunshine Tour that I felt inspired to start the website. I really got thrown into it at the Sunshine Tour and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. John Whitaker, Neil Jones and Torben Suhr really helped me out. They told these incredible stories, often to cheer me up because the young horses I had there weren’t going particularly well, and it made me realize that so much knowledge, insight and understanding does not make it across the ocean to North America. A few weeks later I bought a camera and went to my first horse show not as a rider. It was a CSI in Aalst, Belgium. Some of my friends were there and they were like, “what are you doing with that camera?”
Do you have any “can’t miss” shows on your list that you cover?
Oh for sure. I always attend WEF in Wellington. It is a rare opportunity for so much of the show jumping community to be together in one place, and Wellington has really become one of the most incredible equestrian sporting communities in the world. I also always try to go to Spruce Meadows and Aachen. I always attend at least a few LGCT events including my two favorites, Miami and Valkenswaard.
I make sure to go to one or two of the EEM events. I love the Paris Masters! The French public is incredible and so knowledgeable. During a jump off, you can’t help but smile when they all scream in unison, “Allez, allez” to the riders.
My team and I take great care to make sure we attend as many events as we can. The NF team is so devoted to covering horse sport around the world, in fact one of our team members, Meghan Bacso, just came back from covering the Morocco Royal Tour in Africa. She then flew straight to Tryon, North Carolina to cover their five star event there. We will be working with a number of up-and-coming shows next year as well.
What do you look for when adding to your team at NF?
A new NF team member has to have plenty of energy, be focused on detail and understand the importance of building relationships. We are not, by any means, one of the bigger teams in equestrian media, so we have to make up for that by focusing on quality. Focusing on quality, over quantity, means building relationships and establishing direct lines of communication to those within the sport or within a certain space.
We also have a balance within the team of those who are actively involved in equestrian sport or equestrian living, and those who are not. I think it is important to keep a balance between those who are so closely linked to horse sport and those who can look from the outside in, and see what we in the sport, might not be able to see. Those team members offer a fresh perspective and draw reference to the way it’s done in other sports or other spaces. They can often suggest approaches that have been overlooked.
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
I don’t believe in regret but there is one thing I wish I could take back. I was supposed to go to Andres Rodriguez and Clementine Goutal’s wedding last December but I had to work at the Longines Masters event in Paris. I wish I could take that back in some way. Andres was one of the first friends and riders to support my idea to start a magazine and I talked to him whenever I could about my vision, goals and bigger plans. He was a great listener and had an infectious energy. I wish I could have seen him one last time before that horrific day in January.
If you could pick one, who is your favorite professional at the moment?
It’s impossible to choose one. I have always felt that Peder Fredricson, who is on the cover of the Fall issue of Noelle Floyd Magazine, is a true horseman who respects and loves his horses. I have a lot of respect for Tiffany Foster, who loves horses in the same way she did when she was a kid. Her horses really make her happy, that is tangible. I also have A LOT of respect for Rich Fellers, Richard Spooner, Laura Kraut, Luca Maria Moneta and Luciana Diniz, who as riders really listen to their horses. They are empathetic people by nature, so I think that makes them incredibly compassionate jockeys.
I have never seen Simon Delestre or Kent Farrington lose their cool on a horse and I REALLY respect that. Kent has a very intriguing approach to the sport, he really works WITH his horses, he studies them and that is why he can ride so many different types.
It is hard for me to narrow down only a handful of riders that are my favorite at the moment. I always have time for riders that first and foremost love horses, retain that awe and respect for the horse as an animal and a truly incredible athlete and the riders who do not see horses as just a vessel that gets them to their next win.
Who is your favourite horse at the moment?
Oh that is tough also! Ok, with emphasis on “the moment,” I think a horse to watch is Creedance, ridden by Kent Farrington. That is a super special horse. I think HH Azur is an incredibly gifted mare and just a class act through and through. I think that Audrey Coulter’s Capital Colnardo looks like a dream to ride. I think Laura Kraut has some really cool horses coming through the ranks, her nine year old Confu is one I loved to watch this summer.
(Of all time) I will be a die-hard Flexible fan forever. Of course Big Star is the definition of the perfect show jumper. I think that Meredith’s Fibonacci and Peder’s All In performed flawlessly this year in Nations Cups, you can see our performance analysis of both horses in thelatest issue of NOELLE FLOYD Magazine on page 32.
How do you feel the sport of show jumping is becoming more main-stream to individuals outside of the equine industry?
I think horse shows like GCT and EEM are doing a great job bringing the excitement of European shows to North America. Bringing that knowledge and excitement across the Atlantic ocean is difficult, but vital to making show jumpingmore mainstream in North America. I think the more we can make the larger public understand A) how awesome horses are and B) how challenging horse sport actually is and C) the teamwork that exists between horse and rider, then we can translate our love for the sport into the mainstream but those three factors need to be done to perfection first.
Who is on your bucket list to interview and feature?
There are so many incredible horsemen and horsewomen around the world that I would love to sit down and get to know, not just in show jumping. That is what is so cool about the horse community and the wider equestrian community, there are always stories that have not been told, lessons that have not been shared, people whose work and passion have not been credited. I think my bucket list is more of a pursuit of those stories that have not been told, those riders and those horses that represent the best of our community.
Do you think it is important to strike a balance between the exposure seasoned professionals get and up and coming amateurs that are looking to turn professional?
Oh certainly. That is one of the reasons I started NF Style. I felt there was so many more riders, horses a nd stories out there that are worth telling, not just the ones from the top of the sport. That is a large part of the inspiration behind NF Style.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the competitive amateur working towards the top levels of this sport?
There is so much knowledge available to you. The equine community across the world has never been more connected and online than it is today. Take advantage of that. Study video, read as much as you can, network as much as you can. Start with the Master Class series on NF Style, there is a ton of insight and wisdom there. Be hungry and hard working. When Kent Farrington first went to Florida to catch ride for George Morris, he sat ringside and watched and watched and watched. He studied and took notes whenever he wasn’t riding himself. All the best riders that I know today, they’ve admitted to watching and observing. A great rider watches everyone around them, everything. A great rider listens, to their horses and to those around them. Those riders stand the test of time.
Written By: Natalie With-Seidelin