VREA's 4th rider select
USEA’s 2023 Young Rider of the Year Molly Duda might be making a splash at the upper levels of eventing, but she hasn’t always had her eye on the top levels. When she started her eventing career 5 years ago, Molly thought that competing past the lower levels might not ever be in the cards for her. Then a special horse came along and changed everything. A California native, Molly was riding with Mickayla Howard when she met Disco Traveler, a quirky Swedish Warmblood gelding. A bit of an unconventional mount, no one else in the barn wanted to ride him, but when her own horse became injured Molly decided to try him out. The pair instantly clicked, with the sometimes-difficult Disco seeming to decide that Molly was his person.
Soon they were moving rapidly up the levels, from Training to CCI3* in less than a year. Molly found that instead of feeling nervous as the fences got bigger, she felt more confident and was having even more fun – something she credits to the special bond she has with Disco. At the end of 2022 Molly decided to add another mount to her string, heading overseas to try a variety of horses. She ended up purchasing Carlingford’s He’s A Clover, aka Tommy, an Irish Sport Horse gelding who had competed through the Advanced level in the UK.
2023 proved to be Molly’s year, with a series of wins followed by an individual gold medal at the CCI3*-L at the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships at Galway Downs, an accomplishment that Molly had never even dreamed of. Not to be outdone by his stablemate, Tommy also had a great year, finishing second in the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championships. Those accomplishments helped Molly clinch the Young Rider of the Year title and secured her invitation to USEA’s EA21 National Camp as well as USEF’s U25 Emerging Athlete program. In addition to her original trainer Mickayla, Molly has also been very grateful to receive help from Tamie Smith and Robyn Fisher.
Now a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, Molly is studying microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics in addition to balancing her promising
riding career. She has her sights set on moving up to the Advanced/CCI4* level soon with Disco and can’t wait to continue developing her relationship with Tommy, as well as competing Lilly. We’re excited to feature this gifted young rider in collaboration with Victoria Rose Equestrian Athletics.