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Horsing Around with Dominic Gibbs

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Dominic Gibbs

A Colorado teen is making a name for himself in the equestrian world.

Born into a family from Pueblo, CO, Dominic has been around horses his entire life. The family owned a home west of Pueblo with an attached indoor arena, and he learned from an early age how to ride and care for the horses. His mother, Erin, was a rider, so she taught her children—Dominic, Patrick, and Jordan—everything she could about the sport. “I knew immediately that Dominic was going to be a natural,” Erin says. “He just had a different way of sitting on a horse, and he looked so at home.”

The family started rescuing ponies, and the children learned to ride independently as they grew. The sport resonated with Dominic and his sister, Jordan, who also competes, but Patrick gravitated toward other sports, so the family moved to Colorado Springs where they could all thrive.

Now a senior in a nontraditional high school, Dominic spends his days training, caring for his horses, working out, and taking care of any other day-to-day activities that are necessary to achieve his goals. And when one goal is achieved, another is set.

“He is amazing,” says Erin, from their temporary home in Florida where the competition circuit is much more robust. “This is the best possible place for him to be right now, but it is definitely not for everyone.”

Erin explains that, for equestrians, Florida is a jackpot in the winter; for four months, there are back-to-back competitions, and you have access to the very best trainers. Dominic advocated for this opportunity when he was just 15 years old, and so the family set some ground rules. “Dominic had to step up and be independent,” Erin says. “He had to meet certain criteria to prove to us that he could learn time management and self-advocacy. With every challenge, he checked the box.”

Dominic Gibbs 2

Gibbs and Cent 15 compete at the 2020 Platinum Performance/U.S. Equestrian Team Talent Search Finals at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC.

And now that Dominic has added the Maclay Award to his resume, he has a few more things to accomplish before he is no longer considered a junior by the U.S. Equestrian Federation as of December 1, 2021. “There are three other equitation finals (in addition to the Maclay) that I hope to win or at least place very high in,” he says. “Only one person has won all four.”

To perform at the highest level, Dominic puts a lot of trust in his partner, which might be Cent 15 or Delia B, depending on the competition. “There is definitely a friendly connection with them. When I walk into the barn, Delia is very talkative,” he says. “But when we are working, it’s actually quite businesslike. There is a lot of communication needed. I need to help the horse, and the horse needs to help me.”

For the next several months, Dominic will focus on finishing high school and competing. He is excited for a new opportunity with the North American Young Riders, a team of four under the age of 21 who compete against Canada and Mexico for the national title. And college is in his future—Georgetown and University of Miami are his top choices—where he will earn a business degree to set him up for the future. He has not decided if he will embark on his college career in 2021 or 2022.

“I want to be a professional rider and trainer after college,” he says. “The most successful equestrians are businesspeople.” But he also explains that much of the success of being a good trainer comes from being a good horseman first. “I don’t have a lot of experience with different horses at this point in my life,” he says. “I want to be able to work with different kinds of horses, so I can be more sensitive to their cues, get to know them and figure them out quickly. Then, I will be able to express my experience to my future students.”

He also has his sights set on the Summer Olympics in either 2024 in Paris or 2028 in Los Angeles, depending on his college career and the training he still feels he needs.

Erin says Dominic has always been on the trajectory of being the best he can be. Dominic says, “It’s simply about improvement and being a better person every day by learning something new.”