There’s nothing better than when cooperation leads to a successful team effort, and for Jennifer Gates’ Evergate Stables, that moment is now. Alongside longtime coach Hardin Towell and trainer Sayre Happy, Gates took the U25 division by storm this fall at the Rolex Central Park and the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky. Towell, for his part, has also been making headlines in the grand prix ring, most recently with Evergate Stables’ 11-year-old Westphalian gelding Lucifer V (Lord Dezi x Grandeur), with whom he won the $87,000 GroupBy Big Ben Challenge at the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show in Toronto this month, as well as the $40,000 U.S. Open CSX FEI Speed Class at Central Park in September. And, after two fourth-place finishes at Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping events with Dolinn in Sacramento and Langley, B.C., Sayre Happy currently sits in the top-five in the North American Western Sub-League.

In other words, the Evergate program is coming into its own, and the entire team is feeling the benefits. “When Hardin and I started together, I was jumping the meter jumpers, so obviously, that’s progressed quite a bit,” Gates says. “I think he’s grown in the sport—[we’ve actually] grown alongside each other—which has been really rewarding.”

From confidence building to mastering the details of top-level competition, Gates shares three key lessons she’s learned from her team with NF Style.

1. Success is a balancing act. 

[Sayre] is extremely good on the flat and helps me learn the details, and Hardin is amazing at teaching me how to go fast and be competitive. I think Sayre has added a lot of depth to our team in terms of the attention to detail it takes to compete at the highest level of this sport.

2. Confidence is king. 

When you have a bad round, it’s natural that your confidence is diminished the next time you enter the ring. [Hardin] has really taught me that if you’re not confident, you’re not going to ride well. You never know what’s going to happen in the ring—you might have rails, you might fall off—but if you don’t go in there hoping that you’ll succeed, it’s that much harder to [make] it go well.

3. Good or bad, check your round at the out-gate. 

I think Hardin has really [instilled in me] the importance of going into the ring, doing my best, and whatever happens, happens. Put it all out there and be confident in yourself, your horse, and the team behind you.

-Photo credits: Bret St. Clair; Erin Gilmore.