Show jumper Lucy Deslauriers balances college full-time and runs The Equestrian Cooperative, a social justice initiative — all while preparing for a chance at the 2021 Olympics.
2020 was an unforgettable year for Lucy Deslauriers, a rising show jumping star and bold social justice advocate in the equestrian space.
At 21 years old, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Lucy to reevaluate her strategy and focus. Time spent away from the competition circuit gave her a unique opportunity to step back, enjoy time with her horses and consider how she could give back to the sport that has given her everything.
Now in the spring of 2021, Lucy is deepening an eight-year-long partnership with her Belgian Warmblood, Hester, and gearing up for a shot at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Making Horses Possible for Everyone
In light of the powerful dialogues around social justice and equity in the summer of 2020, Lucy co-founded The Equestrian Cooperative with Adrienne Sternlicht, Paige Bellissimo and Tori Repole.
“It came up around conversations about social justice and inequality and the disconnect between conversations we’d been having with our peers outside the equestrian world and what we’d been seeing in the equestrian world,” shares Lucy. “It stirred us to think of what we could do to mobilize the people around us and create impact.”
The Cooperative’s first project was a fundraiser to relieve the medical debt in Palm Beach County. “With great enthusiasm from the equestrians around us, we were able to raise a lot of money,” says Lucy. “Our thinking was that we come into all of these places for an extended period of time — and we bring in a host of wealth and privilege — but we don’t often take enough of a look at the people that live in these communities that we impact by being here.”
Although the Cooperative is still a “work in progress,” Lucy looks forward to continuing to propel the conversation forward in the equestrian world.
“There are things that stand out as barriers to entry for a lot of people,” she says. “Prices of horses are going up, the cost to show at horse shows, especially in the United States, is incredibly high. I think that’s a major factor that stands in the way for a lot of people — and it shouldn’t be.” Lucy has witnessed just how powerful an impact horses can have on a person’s life — and she wants to share that with more people. “Everyone should be able to enjoy and have access to the power of horses and our community,” Lucy says. “I think that’s something that we all as equestrians need to be thinking about and be proactive about.”
Following in Her Family’s Footsteps
Growing up under the tutelage of her international Grand Prix parents, Lisa and Mario Deslauriers, horses have always been part of Lucy’s life. “I was introduced to the sport through my parents, competing at the highest level,” she says. “My earliest memories are traveling with my family to horse shows.”
After riding at summer pony camps, Lucy realized just how much she enjoyed the sport. “It solidified my passion and how much I loved horses,” she says. “A few years after I started competing, I realized it was something I wanted to do more seriously.”
As the daughter of two successful equestrians, Lucy tries not to take their relationship for granted. “I feel really lucky to have two parents who are so knowledgeable and who have so much history in this sport — even in the day-to-day, I feel like I learn so much from both of them. They basically taught me everything I know.”
Lucy and her dad ride together daily, while her mom — a full-time real estate broker in New York — rides for fun. “Her primary job isn’t horses but my mom is a huge part of what we do,” says Lucy. “My brother Jack is also very involved in the business and planning side of our operation. It’s a team effort.”
A Strong Partnership
Lucy’s top competition horse — and Olympic hopeful — is Hester, a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood.
Throughout the course of their eight-year partnership together, Lucy and Hester have achieved plenty of firsts and milestones together. “Our relationship is super special to me,” says Lucy. “It’s a mix of enjoying every moment and riding the wave but also using our relationship and the trust we’ve built to move forward and conquer new heights. It’s something that takes a long time to develop — and I feel really lucky that we’re able to still do it together.”
Lucy’s dad initially bought Hester as a horse for himself — but when Lucy needed a horse to jump, she hopped on and the duo clicked immediately. At the time, Lucy admits that Hester knew more than she did. “It wasn’t a matter of pushing him to move up the levels,” she says. “It was more about waiting for me to catch up and figuring out how to ride the next level for him.”
As the Tokyo Olympics draw closer, Lucy is balancing her Olympic dream with finishing her junior year at University of Pennsylvania. “It’s hard,” she says. “But luckily, I have an amazing team of people at the farm, including my parents who make sure that my horses are doing well.”
“There are so many people and parts that go behind the scenes in making what we do possible,” says Lucy. “I think it shouldn’t be overlooked — especially getting U.S. teams over to Europe to compete. We’re lucky in the United States to have a really big base of supporters that make it possible for us to embark on what I hope I’ll get to do in the next few months: Go over to Europe and get ready to put myself in the position to go to the Olympics.”