Meet Molly Paris
A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Molly is on a mission to represent her country as one of the top dressage riders in the United States. Her dedication, natural ability and passion for being the best, combined with her incredibly humble and down to earth personality make her one to watch for the future of this sport.
“My sweet horse didn’t always present “sweet.” She is high spirited, athletic and slow to emotionally mature. We cycled through several training situations and were at our wits end…and then we found Molly. Molly took a look at my horse with fresh eyes, from a place of compassion and, importantly, from the horse’s perspective. She was fair, yet asked more in every situation. In two short years she transformed my mare from a bucking, unpredictable, inverted misery to a balanced third-level happy horse. And she brought me along too, letting me know, with great honesty and kindness, when I needed to push a bit more. Our partnership is invaluable. Molly has been a gift to me….and a gift for Razz.”
— Beth Cox Lucas
What are your competitive goals for this year?
For this year I hope to get Sky out into the U25, maybe a CDI… and with my baby horse Kryon – just continue developing him and making him stronger. Hopefully this is just the start of a long, and happy career for him. Tess will be enjoying a relaxing, well-deserved summer and hopefully will get the opportunity to share her expertise and knowledge with some other riders.
What’s your advice to other young riders who want to compete at the upper levels someday?
It will be mentally, emotionally and physically hard so make sure that you have people that you can talk to. I am lucky to have an incredibly open relationship with my trainer Chris Hickey, my mom, and my sister — who also competes and is one of my biggest supporters.
All of the hard work that you put in will be worth it — and the relationships you make, professionally and personally, will be unlike any other.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Every year, I feel like I hit new highlights and milestones — just when I feel like it can’t get any better, it somehow does. Even through all the highs and lows in this sport, I try to look at all the positives that happen. Progressing from NAJYRC to Nations Cup to Devon, good things keep happening and I am grateful for all these amazing opportunities.
HORSES ARE A FAMILY THING
Throughout Molly’s childhood, horses were a part of her life. As she grew up and her dedication to riding became clear, the family began Joli Cheval, an equestrian center in Mint Hill where the family could provide impeccable, hands-on care for their horses. Having built an outstanding team of trusted professionals throughout the years, the Paris family follows the notion that the horse always comes first. Molly takes this attitude into the show ring, preferring to groom and take care of her horses herself. (You may have even seen the famous USA pants in some behind the scenes photos.)
“I want to know everything about my horses. Their likes, dislikes, what makes them nervous or excited. That bond and trust is something that I think you have to have to be successful at the upper levels.”
Molly credits her time spent at Joli Cheval, with not only keeping her grounded and focused, but putting her in the right mindset for training in Wellington and traveling to compete. She is fortunate to have access to not only the best in equine facilities, but a team and barn family who loves and supports her.
FINDING HER STRIDE
Her first major breakthrough on the international stage came in 2014 when she won an individual Silver medal and a Freestyle Bronze on Diamant Sky at the 2014 Youth Continental/Regional Championships Lexington, Horse Park KY and secured Gold for her team. She would return the following year in the 2015 Young Rider division, placing 7th in the teams, 10th individually and 4th in Freestyle.
In an effort to gain greater exposure and confidence at the upper levels and U25, she purchased Countess (Tess), a quirky chestnut mare, in 2016. “She’s amazing — she’s teaching me a lot and she’s the sweetest mare. I really could not love her more.”
After some time getting to know one another, in 2017, Molly made the treak up to Gladstone, N.J. to compete in the ‘Brentina Cup’ Championship at the prestigious The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. She would finish 3rd overall with a total of 65.992 after earning a score of 66.975 percent in the Grand Prix 16-25 Freestyle and winning the Intermediate II 16–25 with a score of 67.079 percent.
With the encouragement and guidance of her coach Chris Hickey, Molly who was only 21 at the time not only competed in her First FEI CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle at the Tryon Fall Dressage FEI CDI-W later that year, but won the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle with a 68.375%
“This is our first CDI-W Grand Prix together and it’s been so amazing. She’s been great all week. We’ve done the U-25 together and Chris Hickey said, ‘You have the horse, now go do the Grand Prix,’ so here we are!”
Following her success, she headed to Dressage at Devon for the first time, pulling off a 5th place in the Grand Prix and 4th place in the Freestyle with an impressive 69.4%
In 2018, Molly was chosen to represent the United States in the CDIO U25 competition with her Grand Prix mare Tess, in addition to showing Diamant Sky “Sky” in the CDI 3* Small Tour competition.
She ended her 2018 season with a 2nd place finish against a full field of 12 other horse/rider combinations in the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championships at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions in Wayne, Illinois.
After searching for more than a year for a young horse to bring up the levels, in the summer of 2019 she purchased a 4 year old gelding (Olympic Ferro x Elise) who had little more than 30 days under saddle named Kryon. Regarded around the barn for his playful personality and wonderful attitude towards everything, Molly took him to his first show in Wellington in March 2020 scoring an impressive 72.2% in First-2. Right now, there’s simply no limit to Kryon’s potential and Molly is thrilled to see how her “baby dinosaur” progresses.
Molly’s other horse Sky is aimed at making his big tour debut in 2020, and Tess started the year representing Team Hylofit at the 2020 Challenge of Americas.
Molly currently trains out of Mint Hill, NC — just outside of Charlotte, and winters in Wellington, FL.