Riding Fast with Liz Halliday
Liz Halliday, a native Californian now based in Surrey, is an international equestrian in Three-Day Eventing with the goal of one day making the USA Olympic team and claiming Olympic Gold. A lofty goal for any 27 year old, but amazingly, Liz is also an international motor racing driver with another ambitious goal; to be the first female to win the prestigious 24 Hour of Le Mans endurance race. Incredibly both goals are within her grasp and are achievable.
When did you begin riding?
L.H. Horses are my first love and I started riding when I was eight. I was a member of Fallbrook Pony Club and as a part of the Southern California Show Jumping team in 1993, we finished third in the National Pony Club Championships. In Santa Barbara I trained with Don Sachey who made me realize I how much I loved Eventing and encouraged me to work harder and to move to England to focus on the sport.
Who was your mentor(s) in England?
L.H. William Fox-Pit helped me to progress through the levels and gave me a foundation for event-horse fitness training and helped me to realize what commitment it takes to compete at the higher levels. With the help of Joe Meyer, who will be representing New Zealand in the World Games, I have been able to improve my jumping and overall riding tremendously. Pammy Hutton has taught me so much about upper-level Dressage and training methods that now it is my strongest phase. In England, I am able to compete more frequently due to the number of high caliber events held there, with my horses Harry, Oscar and Fox. Foxy, my new Advanced horse, is a cleaver and athletic cross-country horse, who I hope, with the right training and luck, will take us to Olympic gold.
When did your racing career begin?
L.H. Late! I did not begin racing until I was 17 which put me at a distinct disadvantage as most drivers start racing in “carts” at 8-10 years old. My father, Don Halliday, a Sports Car of America instructor and vintage racer, and I began sharing the wheel in vintage sports car races. I then moved to Club Level in Britain and subsequently to FIA and Rolex Grand Am in the states. I am currently competing in the American Le Mans Series with my teammate Clint Field in the P2 class. This year I became the female with the most wins in ALMS history with six and was the only woman to race at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, France.
Describe your scariest moment. Are you superstitious?
L.H. Actually, I have had two, one in each sport. In the Eventing trials leading up to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, my horse was unable to make a jump and fell back on me, but luckily we were both unhurt. At Road America my car burst into flames and I was forced to pull over. As I exited the car, it rolled back, so I pushed it forward to keep it from going back on the track. I really don’t have any superstitions in racing, but since I find the cross-country phase of Eventing scarier than racing, if I had a fall in a particular shirt or was using a certain whip, I won’t compete with them for awhile. Similarly, if I do well, I will use them forever!
What do you like/dislike about competing in two professional sports?
L.H. I love both sports and would not dream of giving one up. However, since the seasons of both run parallel from May to October, it means that I have virtually no social life! Both sports are dangerous, especially the cross-country phase of Eventing, and require complete commitment to the job at hand and allow little or no room for error. Also, both sports require full-body fitness as well as total mental alertness. The riding, especially the cross-country phase, requires sudden bursts of energy, while the racing requires endurance for a longer period of time.
What advice do you have for someone pursuing a professional career?
L.H. Any professional sport requires total concentration, focus and mental preparation
Be prepared for the complete commitment that is required to perform at a high level. Working hard and f
Author: william tatgenhorst