Luciana Diniz trotted into the center of Aachen’s main stadium on a loose rein, her posture ramrod straight but her face, completely relaxed.

She looked left and right and imperceptibly asked her small mount, Fit For Fun, to walk. Both horse and rider stood there for a moment, appearing to take deep breaths together and sharing the same, soft eye.

Then Diniz picked up the reins and proceeded to blaze a fiery path over the toughest show jumping track in the world.

“I always believe the power is when you are quiet,” Diniz described about entering the epic Aachen arena. “I was trying to be very quiet, to be in serenity, to really be my best for the jump off.”

I always believe the power is when you are quiet.

For Diniz, serenity and introspection are more than just buzz words. They are part of her G.R.O.W. 2 Ride philosophy, which asserts that a wider net of factors, including emotional well-being, connection with the horse, and staying in balance—mentally, physically and spiritually—can help riders become more successful in the sport and lead more happy, well-balanced lives.

It’s not the kind of mindset that’s widely shared among riders of Luciana Diniz’s caliber, but then, being in lockstep with show jumping’s conventional wisdom has never particularly concerned her. For instance, big bits and big horses are not a requirement to achieve a 2nd place finish in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, as Diniz proved last weekend. Fit For Fun, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (For Pleasure x Fabriano), barely measures to 16 hands. She goes in a loose ring snaffle and Diniz sits lightly on her back. Nonetheless, the power that the two of them produce is unmatchable, and last Sunday in Aachen, it was very close to unbeatable.

“It’s a little bit for Fit For Fun the way I normally come in the ring or when in the jump off, we both trust something that’s quiet,” Diniz said. “It’s kind of a ritual for both of us and it’s the way we perform our best.”

-Photos by Erin Gilmore.