A. I look up to all of them. I think they’re all amazing in their own ways. I look up to Jennie Brannigan, of course. She has done so much in such a short time with Cooper and Cambalda. Of the upper level professionals: Phillip Dutton always has so many four-star horses. Oliver Townsen, he’s on fire right now. Lucinda Frederick, I love that little mare she rides. I think she’s full of fire and she’s so cute. She’s an amazing little horse. I love little horses. Devon is 15.2. I have always had a thing for little horses and when I see them out there doing well it just makes me happy.
Below: Lucinda Frederick on her little mare, Headley Brittanica
photo by Josh Walker
Q. What qualities do you see in them that you want to replicate?
A. All of those riders are so driven and so talented at bringing up horses to the four-star level. They love what they do and their horses love it. They’re masters. It’s a pleasure to watch them ride.
Below: Gina Miles and McKinleigh
photo by Shannon Brinkman
Q. Who are the famous event horses you love?
A. Headley Brittanica, McKinleigh (Gina Mile’s horse, see left). I’ve ridden him and he’s an amazing horse. Theodore O’Conner. Little horses! I love Cooper, of course. I liked Custom Made-he reminds me of my horse a little bit, Beacon Hill-the classic event horse who loved the job and what he did.
Q. What qualities do you have that make you a successful competitor?
A. I think the support that I’ve had has really helped. My mom has been behind me 110%. She’s been my biggest supporter. My step dad, who passed away in 2007, was a big supporter too. He sold his motorcycle to help buy Beacon Hill. He really wanted me to start my eventing career and get me off my pony and onto a real horse. They’re support: I think that’s what really keeps me going.
Q. What would you say to other young riders out there trying to get a foothold?
A. I would say taking it slow. So many people are pushing themselves these days. It’s just as cool to win young riders at 17 as it is at 21. Don’t rush yourself, take it slow, be ready and prepared. That would be my biggest advice for anyone at any level.
Q. What about going forward? Will you keep riding? Go to college? Go abroad?
A. That’s kind of the daunting decision right now. I’m definitely going to go to school. We’re just trying to figure out how and when and where. I might stay here for another year and finish out a couple more classes at community college and transfer to Stanford or EC Davis or something around here. Or I might immediately go into a 4-year school back East. Or there’s a great school I’m looking into called Hartpury College. It’s an amazing school in England with a riding program. They hold 3-stars at the school. I don’t know how that would work out. I don’t know if I would take both or sell them or take one. I have to think about leaving my mom and all that stuff.
Max on Beacon Hill
photo by Brant Gamma
Q. Dogs or cats?
Max’s puppy adorable puppy, Sailor
Q. Pink or blue?
Q. Ford or Dodge?
Q. Paint or bay?
A. That’s hard because I have one Paint and one Bay. It has to be a tie. No, I’ll say Bay because I’m picky about my Paints.
Q. Comfort food or salad?
A. Salad and veggies.
Q. Showjumping or cross country?
Q. Rolex or Burghley?
Q. Ocala or Aiken?
A. I’ve never been to Aiken so I’m gonna have to say Ocala.
Below: Max posing with Project Runway
Q. Mare or gelding?
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. No, just thank you. I usually get nervous but you made it really fun.
If you want to know more about Max McManamy, her horses, or her amazing eventing career check back here at Three Days Three Ways where we’ll be posting the video interview she did with the USEF for her big award. Coming soon!