What inspired you to become a jockey?
I have dreamed of becoming a jockey since I was a child. I was raised riding on the back of a horse and horse books and movies also inspired me. I continued with these aspirations into my teenage years, despite my family's warnings about this challenging and perilous lifestyle.
During my college years, I pursued my passion for horses through veterinary medicine rather than horse racing. I spent the last three years doing both veterinary school along with working as an exercise rider and jockey. Now as a graduate from UC Davis, I’m ready to work as a jockey full-time.
What part of being a jockey is the most rewarding for you?
I deeply enjoy partnering with a horse to help it run to its full potential. There are horses that perform better with certain riders than others. There are a few special horses that I have helped win their first races. This dynamic interchange of horse and rider as a collaborative team is particularly rewarding.
How did it feel to win your first race?
It was like all my dreams came together at once.
I felt the thrill going down the home stretch and seeing the finish line. I was in the lead and couldn't see any horses in my periphery. This was a horse I had ridden numerous times and through a dynamic partnership, we were able to get the job done.
What motivated you to become a veterinarian?
My childhood companion and horse, Saheeh, nurtured my love for animals. While growing up, I always knew I wanted a career working with horses. I was fascinated by the unique facets of equine medicine introduced to me by my childhood riding instructor, including acupuncture and chiropractic treatments.
As a track and field athlete, I become increasingly interested in rehabilitation, which I could understand from a human sports medicine perspective. During my first year of college, I shadowed a veterinarian who encouraged me to pursue my equine passion in the form of veterinary medicine. I wanted a profession where I could help, study and rehabilitate animals, especially horses in the Thoroughbred racing industry.
Why do you volunteer your time on animal missions?
I believe we are all here for a greater purpose.
I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to earn a veterinary degree in the United States. I'm aware that there are many people who could never have that opportunity, so I want to use my training to spread knowledge around the world.
I also believe in championing on behalf of the voiceless, which applies to both animals and humans in need in developing countries.