We have no idea how multi-hyphenate Kendra Gratteri does it all. Based in California, she splits her time between San Francisco and LA, is an entrepreneur (she’s currently launching a new fashion vertical for FabFitFun), the founder of Compliment Drops (a seriously cool, heartwarming project) and oh, yes—and she’s also an amazing equestrian.
“The only life hack I have is that I can’t do it all,” Gratteri says. “I think most professional woman have a relationship with this struggle. The double-blind still exists and female executives still remain in the large minority. I remind myself that ‘all’ is different for me than it is for others, and my sense of identity and success is not defined by ‘how much,’ but instead by ‘how well.’ At the risk of sounding trite, I am simply grateful I can ride! That my body is healthy and strong and I am ageless and in love with a sport that you can never truly conquer.”
More words of wisdom, on riding, life, skincare, and everything else, below.
What's your most treasured memory from riding?
I have learned some of my hardest life lessons on the back of a horse. If I had to pick one, it would be that in order to be a great rider you must learn integrity. Horses, unlike people, are not influenced by the lies we tell ourselves or others. Your horses know your shortcomings and you better know them as well or you will get hurt.
What drew you to riding?
It is hard to say what drives a four-year-old to anything. But, in hindsight it was a deep inner desire to feel unlimited, uncontrolled, and free. And, a place that I could learn to lean into fear. A place I could learn to live with fear. The stables were my safe place as a child.
How do you find balance when it comes to having a "day job" and riding?
Maintaining a work/horse balance requires prioritization and planning. I find that my life falls off balance when I don't have clear alignment between what matters to my heart and what I am letting run rampid in my head. Getting clear about my commitment to the art of becoming a better horseperson is the key to making sure that dedicated riding time is not eroded by other commitments. I carve out specific riding days and times. Where I used to try to "sneak" out to the barn in the early AM or at dusk, I now give more respect to the craft, by giving it dedicated, focused time on my calendar.
Tell us a little about your horse.
I have a few in rotation right now. Most recently, I have been riding Dressage. It’s fair to say my love of jumpers has waned, and I recently sold my Holsteiner Jumper from Rancho Corozan. I bought him when he was 4 and he just turned 6.5 and topped 18 hands! His shoes were as big as pancake plates!
Do you have a song or ritual that psyches you up for a ride?
Pre-Mount Ritual: Clear your mind! Always easier said than done. We’ve all had those post-meeting rides where you are still fuming over a lost deal or the mansplainer in the boardroom. These are never my best and often have the same outcome as when I "hangry" fight with my husband. However, I have learned to use my commute to the stables to meditate. A mind exercise that helps me is to visualize an empty arena with a large pile of dirt in the middle. With a small broom, my mind sweeps the dirt from the center to the sides until the ground is level, consistent and a beautiful arena to begin my ride.
Riding can be brutal on your skin—do you have a product or products that you love to use while at the stable?Oil free foundation with SPF 30 or higher is essential, not only to protect your skin, but also to defend from all the dust and dirt at the barn. I like Laura Mercier’s because it’s light. But I am freaking out about a new product called Lumion Skin. The main ingredient is hypochlorous acid, an infection-fighting compound found naturally in the human body. Hypochlorous acid has been known to reverse markers of epidermal aging, product against environmental hazards, and fight bacteria. Amazingly, it is safe and effective for many equine issues such as ringworm, abrasions, and the US Olympic team uses it as a coat shine. It’s like the crazy glue of beauty products.