The eventing season won’t really get started for a couple more months in the U.K., but 21-year-old Emily King is already looking ahead with anticipation. Her young string is finally coming into its own, and King closed out 2017 with a number of impressive placings with two members in particular: Quinlan Z (“Quinn'”), a 7-year-old Zangersheide stallion in his first year of competition, and Dargun (“Dre”), a 10-year-old KWPN gelding who helped Emily achieve one of her proudest accomplishments of the season.

“My favorite moment was Dargun winning the Advanced Intermediate at Aldon. It was our first big event of the spring, his first [event] at this level, and the class was full of top combinations, so it was super exciting!” King says. “A very proud moment.”

Dre at Chatsworth @eventridermasters

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For Emily, whose mom is six-time British Olympian Mary King, bringing young event horses up the right way is key—even when it requires a little extra time. “I’m a huge believer in training the horses as kindly, thoroughly, and as tailored to their needs as possible to enable them to perform to the best of their abilities,” she says. “I believe in training and competing the horses gradually and carefully, aiming them to be competitive at the big shows—not [just] running fast at all of the smaller shows.”

I like to look at the big picture, and my horses’ health and well-being are always at the forefront of my mind.

For King, this strategy isn’t just sound horsemanship, it’s also good common sense. “I’d much prefer to have a confident and happy horse who can be very competitive at the big shows, rather than running the horses quick at every show, which can easily unsettle them mentally and cause injuries. I like to look at the big picture, and my horses’ health and well-being are always at the forefront of my mind.”

King Eventing has plenty of reasons to be excited this year, not the least of which are a number of very young (and adorable) future prospects who will join the training pipeline in a few years’ time. These include four foals via embryo by King’s top ride, Jane del Missier’s Walitze F Vejgard or “Zara”.

“All four were beautiful, strong, healthy, little babies. So, I’m very thankful for them having a lovely start to their lives. And, as always, I’m forever thankful to my loyal owners and sponsors who enable me to do what I love as, without them, none of this would be possible!” King says.

This year, Emily has especially high hopes for her favorite “ginger”, Dargun—who made his three-star debut last year—as well as Zara, and the young stallion, Quinn. “This season, I hope to compete Dargun competitively at CIC3* and in the Event Rider Masters Series, then I’ll aim him for the U25 Championships at Bramham Park in June,” she says. “I’m aiming Zara for the U25 Irish Championships at Tattersalls in May, and then I really hope to qualify Quinn for the 7-year-old World Championships at Le Lions d’Angers [in France] later on in the year.”

In fact, King says, one of her 2018 resolutions is to earn top placings with her young squad at the bigger horse shows, and also to continue expanding her training and horsemanship skills.

“That, and to go to the gym more!” she jokes.

-Photography by Lisa Bennett. Read our Fall 2017 feature story on Emily, Wearing the Crown,” on page 84 here