byLucas Luz| Jul 11, 2017
For three years, Lucas Luz has worked as an exercise rider for Artisan Farms, keeping owner Andy Ziegler and rider Tiffany Foster’s string of world-caliber horses in top form. So how did the 26-year-old from Brazil land a position at one of North America’s most premier show stables and what does his job really entail from day-to-day? In his own words, Lucas Luz explains.
I’ve been riding since I was 12 in Brazil, and I’m 26 this year, so it’s been 14 years now that I’ve been in the sport. Before I started working as a rider for Artisan, I trained for two years with Gregory Wathelet in Belgium. I’d finished my business degree in Brazil, but I decided I couldn’t work in an office—I tried, but it just didn’t work. So I moved from Brazil to Belgium at 21 and I was with Gregory for two years. I learned a lot there and I showed a lot, and then the opportunity came for me to go to Florida and I stayed there.
I began working with Artisan three years ago. I started riding with Caitlin [Ziegler] because she had a lot of horses and was busy and needed help. I started riding more horses for them, and that’s how I got into it. I mostly ride for Tiffany and Andy [Ziegler] now.
Working for Tiffany is super nice—her and Andy are super easy people and they really respect the horses and just want the best for them. Tiffany’s a good rider and they’re all good horses so the job—I won’t say it’s easy—but there’s not any magic involved with the job itself. We keep the horses fed and happy, and Tiffany likes to keep things simple and relaxed. It’s a pretty nice job, I can’t complain.
On a daily basis, I’ll wake up and have breakfast; usually a shake. Then I’ll go to the barn and help finish the mucking or sweeping or whatever is left to do. Tiffany does the board, and I’ll look at that and then talk to the grooms and figure out which horse is going to go first, and then I start riding and will do all the horses.
It’s a pretty nice environment. Everybody gets along really well and helps each other. We all feel like a team.
You can pretend like you’re a super rider on Christos, because you always look so good riding him.
I’ll spend the whole day riding, but my schedule really depends on if we’re at home or at a show, and how many horses we have and how many Tiffany is showing. If she gets too busy, I’ll start warming them up if they’re too cold. In Florida, it’s the same thing, whenever Tiffany is showing in the morning, I’ll set some time aside for her horses. I also make sure Andy’s horses are ready to show whenever he comes to ride them. I’ve always really believed in good flatwork. Even from the beginning when I was riding, I thought it was important for the horses.
In Florida, I had the opportunity to show. I had my own horse there and Andy gave me the opportunity to show one of his horses. It was pretty awesome.
It’s hard to say how many horses I do a day, but usually it’s about five or six. Tiffany likes her horses to be relaxed when she gets on them—she doesn’t want them to be too hot or stressed. That’s also a mindset that I believe in. I think the horses need to enjoy what you’re doing. They all have different temperaments, and for sure, there are some days when you can ride them for two hours and they’re just not ready to do the job. For sure, when they’re at the show, they need to accept that [anyway], but when we’re at home, and there’s not much going on that day or the day after, if they’re not at their best in their body or mind, I’ll take it easy with them.
I believe in balance a lot. When the horses have one or two days that are really hard, then maybe I’ll just go for a walk with them. Of course, they need to stay in good physical condition, but I think it’s really all about the mind. They’re all super horses at the barn. Tiffany is a good trainer and we always know when the horses are not feeling at their best. You just try to keep them relaxed, in the middle of your leg.
Cyber [van Vryhern] is probably my favorite horse to ride—he’s Andy’s ride, but I pretty much do him every day. Tiffany showed him last week in the 1.10m. Tiffany’s horse Christos [an eight-year-old Holsteiner stallion] is pretty automatic. You can pretend like you’re a super rider, because you always look so good riding him.
Tripple X III is super well-broke. He’s an older guy and knows everything—there’s not much that’s hard about him. He has a lot of energy, so you just have to get him a little less fresh and not irritate him. He knows his job, so I just try to keep his body feeling good and his mind also. He’s a cool horse and a super nice ride.
At home, we’ll often do an exercise with the horses that’s made up of three verticals set at 12 steps apart each. So you can play with it and do a 3-stride to a 3-stride, a 4 to a 4, or a 4 to a 3. If the horses are really good, you can school it in a 5 to a 3, or a 5 to a 4. The horses get pretty relaxed with that. You can really see when they are enjoying the work they’re doing and when they are not. I have to say the horses at Artisan are awesome—I just try to keep them happy.
-Photography and text as told to Tori Repole.
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