Surf ‘n Turf
For Olympic Bronze Medalist Lisa Wilcox, the FEI dressage ring is her turf. Few competitors look as at home and elegant competing as the petite 5’6" blonde. Lisa has found the key to making her job of riding warmblood stallions look easy…balance. That’s balance on the horse and in life. In fact, when Lisa isn’t riding and training, she will most likely be found on the beach near her ocean front home.
“I also like sea horses,” she jokes.
Lisa spent 12 years riding and training at European breeding farms where she became known as the “woman who rides stallions.” When it was time to return to the United States, she wanted to live close to the heartbeat of the Dressage industry and be near the ocean. So, she chose Florida and the volume of the discipline has significantly increased since then. Lisa recently purchased a Del Ray condominium that has floor-to-ceiling windows offering unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and the intercoastal waterway.
“When I drive over the bridge, I peel off my horse skin and get into my mermaid skin,” she says.
She appreciates being under the water as much as she enjoys relaxing on the beach. When she moved to Florida in 2006, she met a surfer. She spent every day off on his boat and learned to free dive with a snorkel mask.
“I couldn’t believe how beautiful the ocean world was just under the surface,” she says. “I was suddenly face to face with some of the most beautiful sea life you could imagine. I felt like I had submersed myself into an entirely new world, a silent, peaceful, beautiful world.”
Now that Lisa's been back from Europe for as many years as she lived there, she often fondly thinks back on her time overseas. She feels blessed for all the opportunities she had there but singles out her time at a low-key sales/training barn near Zurich, Switzerland as a favorite. The property was the quintessential Swiss Chalet surrounded by flawlessly manicured gardens. The outdoor arena was in the midst of this and she could simply enjoy riding.
That year, the barn owner gave her the birthday present of a lifetime. He had his private helicopter fly her and two girlfriends to the Alps mountains.
“We landed on a glacier where we all got out of the helicopter to get group photos, barefoot mind you, as we had high heels on,” she says. “Then we all got back in and were flown to a beautiful restaurant where we had a lovely lunch then flew back to the farm. It was a very magical birthday memory.”
While Lisa was in Europe, she rode for several internationally respected trainers and passed the professional horse trainer (Bereiter) and riding-instructor (Reitlehrer) exams. She credits her time there with teaching her how to ride horses in stimulating experiences, which has certainly served her well at the World Equestrian Games, the European Championships and the Olympics where she has finished in the medals at different points in her career.
“I thank God for what I have and what I’ve achieved,” she says. “I’ve been blessed to have had all of the experiences I’ve had thus far in my career.”
Currently, she is training clients who have horses of their own and she is focused on training Gallant Reflection HU, “Reef,” a horse she’s been training for four years. She says he’s one of the most talented horses she’s ridden and looks forward to having a chance to compete with him at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.