As junior careers go, you couldn’t ask for a better one than Sophie Simpson’s. With top finishes at equitation finals including the ASPCA Maclay and Pessoa/USEF Medal, Simpson also laid down five stellar—and clear—rounds in the 2016 North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) in Parker, Colorado, helping to secure team and individual gold medals for the U.S. aboard her chestnut KWPN mare, Why Not.

Now embarking on a professional career of her own, Simpson, 19, may have big shoes to fill (her parents are top grand prix riders Will Simpson and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson), but if past results are any indication, Sophie has the technique and mental game required to go all the way to the top of the sport.

We caught up with the California girl to give her our Twenty Questions quiz.

1. At what exact moment did you fall in love with horses?

Horses have been apart of my life forever, my first pony was off the slaughter truck and I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him. He’s the one that started this crazy life!

2. For riding, do you prefer black boots or brown boots?

Black.

3. If you could do any other equestrian discipline, what would it be and why?

I would love to play polo! It’s such an amazing sport—crazy, high-energy, super cute ponies. What more could you want?

4.  What is the most embarrassing thing to have ever happened to you while riding? 

There’s a long list of embarrassing things that happened to me while I had ponies… I don’t think I can pick one!

5. What is the most inspiring thing to have ever happened to you while riding?

When you work at something for a while and it finally all comes together…. that is what inspires me.

6. What is your favorite #TwoHearts Moment of recent seasons?

Winning team and individual gold medals at Young Riders last year with my mare, Why Not.

7. What was the hardest lesson you have had to learn in your riding?

Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to learn at a young age—not in riding, but in the industry—is that almost everything is for sale.

8. Who is your mentor and why?

My parents, Nicki Shahinian Simpson and Will Simpson. Watching them compete at the top of the sport is very inspiring. I’m very lucky to have them so close to me to learn from.

9. If you could ride a horse from the past, who would it be?

Hickstead.

10. If you could ride a horse right now that is not your own, who would it be?

Big Star (before he was retired).

11. How do horses keep you grounded in the industry that you live/work in?

The sport is very humbling—one day you can be on the top of the world, and the next day, you can be on the ground! Horses keep us grounded in that way [laughs].

12. What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Watching animated movies with a Domino’s pizza, ice cream, and gummy bears!

13. When were you most happy on a horse?

Jumping the last jump at Young Riders knowing I had just won the individual final! Lots of hard work was put into getting ready for that championship. During that week there was a lot of stress and pressure, so for it all to come together like that—that was my happiest moment on a horse.

14. If your horse were a famous person, who would they be?

Hmm that’s hard… I’d say Why Not would be Beyoncé. She’s super cool, unique, and a little sassy!

15. What is one piece of riding clothing or equipment you could never do without?

My helmet… you’ll never see me on a horse without one.

16. What is your helmet of choice and why?

KASK! Comfort and style are important to me.

17. Which famous clothing brand do you wish would come out with an equestrian line?

I think I would pick Lululemon.

18. What is your biggest splurge to date when it comes to your riding and/or horse(s)?

I really don’t splurge… [laughs].

19. What is the best piece of riding advice you have ever received?

“When you think you know it all, you’ve barely scratched the surface.”  -Will Simpson

20. What is your life motto?

Be the best you can be, work hard, stay humble, be kind, and have fun!

-Photo credits: Erin Gilmore (2); Sportfot (2).