Avery Martin

Los Altos Hills resident Avery Martin rides LJ last spring at the nationals in Georgia.

Since Avery Martin began horseback riding nine years ago, the Los Altos Hills resident said she has fostered “invaluable” connections with her horses and trainers, while also learning life lessons.

“I just enjoy riding a lot,” Martin said. “I think horses can teach people so much; I’ve become mentally and physically stronger since working with horses, and I’ve actually learned a lot about patience, hard work and determination.”

Martin recently placed second at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Nationals in Perry, Ga. The highest level of competition, participants are judged on riding skills and proper technique, according to Martin.

“Getting there and walking in and seeing the arena ... I really realized that I was at nationals – like, it was actually happening,” said the rising senior at Mountain View High.

Although Martin has participated in IEA competitions before, she had never made it to nationals. Usually, she felt stressed during shows because of the pressure.

“I was usually a nervous wreck ... I really was,” Martin said. “But a lot of that came from thinking, ‘These people are so much better than me, I’m not going to do good and I’m going to let down the team.’”

But in this competition, held in April, Martin said she felt different. Rather than worrying about how well she would do, she decided to enjoy the experience, no matter the results.

“I realized that throughout this whole season I really was just trying to have fun. COVID took away a lot of showing opportunities, and I was just happy to pass the IEA show. And I felt a lot calmer. I really wasn’t nervous at any of the shows I went to. I really wasn’t nervous at all,” Martin said.

She has been riding for five years at a competitive level. Although Martin said she enjoys the shows, she also values the experiences of working with the horses and trainers just as much.

Martin’s first trainer, Victoria Dye, runs Victoria Dye Equestrian at Westwind Community Barn in Los Altos Hills, and has worked with Martin for most of her riding experience.

“(Dye) has taken me to almost every single show I’ve ever been to. She’s helped me with my own horses, and she’s always there at IEA practice. So, she was definitely instrumental in my success at nationals, and I really appreciate her,” Martin said.

Martin described her other trainer, Heather Franco, as “such a great and considerate person.”

“It was funny because at nationals, (the judges) had me do a figure-eight test the day before, but I was really confused about how to do it. So, I told Heather the night before, and she drew diagrams for me and we called each other,” Martin said. “I don’t think I would have gotten the placing at nationals that I did if it wasn’t for her.”