Practical Horseman: How’s your lead-up been this spring?
Hawley Bennett-Awad: Really good. I started the season in California at the Fresno County Horse Park. Beautiful footing, they do such a great job there and I thought it would be a good start to our season. Then I headed east with three horses and headed to Buck Davidson’s place. I think it’s really important to have someone in your corner who’s going to be behind you and support you—good, bad, whatever. And I just love being there, I get in the mindset for it.
We also worked out five days a week at the Healthy Harts Fitness [in Ocala] because not only is the horse’s fitness important, but so is ours.
PH: What is Healthy Harts Fitness?
HBA: Clinton Hart is a former NFL player who played on one of my favorite teams, the [Philadelphia] Eagles. He and his brothers have a training facility. It’s not like a regular gym. It has turf, it has every type of thing you could use to work out. And what I like about it is every day is different. For us, we can ride 10 horses a day and be fine but can I push a metal thing across a parking lot? I’ve lost weight and toned up. Physically, I feel good again. It’s been a few years because I had a couple injuries and I feel really good.
PH: How has Jollybo been settling in at the horse park?
HBA: She came off [the trailer] and she knew. It’s like she’s been here 10 times. A little bit sassy. The first day she was at the end of my lead rope, it’s like my 15.3 horse is now 17 hands. Even in the jog strip, I made that turn and all of a sudden she thinks she’s Seabiscuit coming on the home stretch. But she’s really good, she’s great.
PH: What are you goals this year?
HBA: To do the best I can. I’d love to improve my dressage score and finish somewhat close to [last year]. After walking the course, Derek [di Grazia] has outdone himself. It’s definitely tougher than last year. I don’t know if he did that with the World [Equestrian Games] coming up and trying to test people, but it’s no joke. I’d love to be somewhat close to time and clear and then jump a good show-jump round. If I can go in the top 10 I’d be thrilled, I really would.
Swing by the One Stop Equine Shop (Booth #74) on Saturday at 3:30PM to meet Hawley during an autograph signing session!