Lindsay Maxwell has been on Horse & Style’s radar for quite some time. She is an intriguing combination of competitor, owner, and philanthropist, and she uses each title in the hunter jumper world to leave a positive mark on the sport. One of our favorite interviews with Lindsay Maxwell was in support of the 2017 Menlo Charity Horse Show (MCHS) cover story. At that year’s MCHS, Maxwell had successfully competed in both the hunter and jumper rings, supported her horse with trainer Jamie Taylor in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, acted as a sponsor of the show by way of her Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund, and awarded The Widget Perpetual Trophy (an annual award that honors her beloved late horse Widget). And that was just one show! Clearly, Maxwell is having a positive impact on the sport, both in and out of the saddle. H&S had the good fortune to speak with Maxwell again for this issue’s Rider Spotlight.
Horse & Style: How did you get your start in riding?
Lindsay Maxwell: When I was very young, one of my first stuffed animals was a horse. I named him Trigger after Roy Roger’s horse (I am pretty sure I have my dad to thank for that name!) and Trigger came everywhere with me. I still have him, though he is in rough shape now from being loved and toted around for many years. Trigger sparked my love of horses – we found a barn nearby and I fell in love with the sport!
H&S: Do you prefer the hunters or the jumpers? What do you like about each?
LM: I love both and could never choose one. I have primarily competed in hunters throughout my life, but my recent foray into the jumper ring has been exhilarating. I love the style, grace and attention to detail in the hunter ring. Those aspects of the discipline resonate harmoniously with my personality! However, I have totally fallen for the rush of adrenaline and riding technicality involved in the jumper ring, and working with Laura Kraut has been an absolute dream come true. The opportunity to learn from one of the best riders in the sport has been a humbling experience. In the end, I love horses. Regardless of discipline, being around and working with horses is where I am happiest!
H&S: What do you love and enjoy about the sport?
LM: There is an esprit de corps in the equestrian community that I find increasingly rare in most other competitive endeavors. This is something that we all need to work to preserve. I am an animal lover to the core, and the opportunity to compete while working with horses is the perfect amalgamation of two of my biggest passions. My horses’ happiness, care, and well-being are both my team’s and my foremost priority. We are incredibly fortunate to have the ability to work with these animals, and their welfare is an immense responsibility that I take very seriously. I always say (and wholeheartedly believe): Their care is our privilege.
H&S: Who do you ride with now? Tell us about your team.
LM: I train in the hunter ring under the expert guidance of Geoffrey Hesslink and Don Stewart. In the jumper ring, I am fortunate enough to train with Laura Kraut and her incredible team. The LME team is currently comprised of nine very talented individuals, each of whom brings something special to the table. I’m fortunate to spend time with a wonderful group of people who share the same goals, passions, and love of the sport that contribute to our successes as a team every day. We truly are a family!
H&S: What horses do you currently have competing?
LM: In the hunter ring, I currently have seven wonderfully talented horses competing on various levels from the three foot pre-greens to the international hunter derbies. I also have six jumpers, four of which are in the UK at Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut’s farm.
H&S: What does your 2019 show circuit look like?
LM: Busy! I will be back and forth showing jumpers throughout Europe with Laura and showing the hunters in the US. I am in Europe for roughly two weeks showing, then the States again for two weeks, and will continue like that until indoors!
H&S: What was the inspiration behind the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund (LMCF)?
LM: My family has long prioritized philanthropy foremost among our values, and I have been able to learn from the wonderful examples of giving that my parents and grandparents have shared with me. Our equestrian community is replete with many generous people doing so much to create access and opportunity for others while advancing a passion for our sport.
Growing up, I benefitted enormously from the generosity and support of the riders and patrons who came before me. I have long been aware of a sense of generational obligation in the equestrian community to ensure that the same experiences and memories that helped define my childhood would be available to future riders.
The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund was founded in order to assist organizations that promote causes that are significant to me and reflect my personal priorities and values: improving the lives of children with special needs; enabling access to educational opportunities; and providing care, compassion and protection to animals.
The Fund represents an opportunity to expand my giving interests as distinct from those of my family, and also creates a formal structure to support my passion for philanthropy to maximize the impact and benefit to our community.
H&S: What do you wish everyone knew about LMCF?
LM: I think the most important message that I hope people take away from my experience with the Fund is that there are opportunities for all of us to get involved. Whether we’re motivated by paying back a past kindness done unto us, or want to pay forward an opportunity for others, we’re all capable of doing more to support others. Ultimately, that is my goal for the Fund – I hope the Fund inspires others to get involved and find ways that they can support their own communities. This can mean volunteering at a local event, supporting a fundraiser…there are limitless ways to get involved.
H&S: Why did LMCF add access and inclusion as a focus for the Fund in 2019?
LM: The future of our sport depends on constantly engaging the next generation of equestrians. I think that finding opportunities, or starting toward solutions to these issues, relies heavily on continually evaluating our sport and asking questions. I am heartened that there are a lot of wonderful people asking questions! It’s important to remember that our sport isn’t immune to prevailing world factors and conditions. As the income gap widens, are we doing enough to create affordable access opportunities for people to participate and grow in our sport? As our world becomes more globalized and diverse, are we supporting a culture of inclusion where everyone feels safe and welcome?
There is no one answer to these questions: no magic bullet. It is also important to remember that there isn’t a single entity tasked with their resolution – and, in my view, that’s a good thing. This is an opportunity for all of us involved in the sport – collectively and individually – to consider what we can do to support access and inclusion. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I’m extremely interested in the conversation. And, the people who do have ideas about promoting access and inclusion are exactly the types of partners whom the Fund wants to support. My hope is that by exploring these issues using the fund as a platform and engaging our wonderful partners in the conversation, we, as an equestrian community, will continue to work toward finding sustainable solutions.
H&S: What are your personal goals, both inside and outside the riding world?
LM: I believe that the primary goal of every rider should be to maximize your own potential. Ultimately, the best riders compete against themselves. So, to that end, my goals are to always acquit myself to the best of my ability and honor the sport by putting forth my best effort. When I do this, championships and success follow. More specific goals of mine have less to do with my own riding, and more to do with ensuring the relevance and vitality of our equestrian community for future generations of riders.
H&S: What are your goals for LMCF?
LM: A long-term goal for the Fund is to inspire others to participate in similar endeavors. In five years, a measure of success would be to witness both a broadening and expansion of the people and charitable interests contributing to the same types of programs and initiatives that the Fund currently supports. In the past year, I’ve had a number of people seek my counsel in terms of how they can become more involved. I think that the important thing for people to remember is that philanthropy takes all shapes and forms. I don’t necessarily think that a cash donation is any more valuable than the time that a volunteer contributes. I think that there is an abundance of ways for people to get involved to support our community, and that people by their innate nature are generous. I hope that I can inspire others to get involved the way others have inspired me!