Ginny Lussan has been acclimating to Drew since last month when she mounted the saddle as the new equestrian coach following the departure of longtime coach Karen Sykes (’91) last May. Yet, equestrian is nothing new for Lussan because for as long as she can remember she has been riding. It's practically in her blood. The sport has been part of Lussan’s family for generations starting with her grandmother, passing it along to her father and uncle and eventually landing with Lussan and her sister.
The transition from riding to coach came as easily as the sport came into her life. “I spent a lot of time watching my trainers teach and being an assistant in some way to them, setting jumps for other students, helping get horses ready for lessons, taking care of them after lessons or shows. Through time I would help new riders learn the ropes to where eventually I was teaching basic skills on how to communicate with the horse so the rider could direct the horse around the arena. Eventually, I was teaching riding lessons,” said Lussan who has been training for 20 years.
Taking over the Drew Equestrian Team has been a very smooth transition for Lussan as she is comfortable in her ability to assess riders and understand their ability and drive. Thus far, Lussan said, “this team has been so wonderful to work with because they want to ride and compete. I'm here to guide them and help them succeed to the best of their abilities.” Lussan mentioned team captain, Jamie Roth (’21) as being very helpful in her transition saying, “She has been instrumental in helping me organize and communicate with the team, coordinating team workouts, dinners and driving some of the team to lessons.”
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Earlier in life, Lussan aspired to be a teacher. Though she never had a particular subject in mind, she knew she wanted to be an educator. Coach Lussan said the philosophy she takes when training is, “I train the way I want to be trained myself: with positive feedback, options for improvement and a compassion for the challenges. Being not just a coach but a competitor myself, I can coach with an understanding of what my students go through.” Although she is not working in a school, Lussan has fulfilled her ambitions, making a career out of educating riders across the age spectrum in Equestrian - a sport that she describes as unlike any other. “One must be graceful like a ballerina, strong like a hockey player, and have the endurance and coordination of a soccer player.”
Outside of Drew, Lussan works at Hart Farm, a barn in Lebanon, N.J. where she has run her training business LussanLLC the past 8 years. There she trains her riders, ranging from the age of 10 to adults, in the disciplines of Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation. Lussan loves spending quiet time with her pony and three dogs at the barn, adding that it's “a little touchstone reminder that I love this sport and [am] thankful that I get to do what I love for a living.”
Lussan competed consistently for a time before taking a break. She got a horse of her own about four years ago to get back into being a competitor, a quality she believes is essential to be a good trainer. Lussan competed in Adequan Hunters with her horse and made it to her first finals as a professional when she qualified him to Marshall and Sterling Finals. She credits her continued participation in riding as enabling her to be a better coach.
The best advice Lussan ever received was from a boss she had in a job she was in for the sole purpose to make money. Her boss told her to “find something that you’re passionate about and trying to make a career out of that.” Having found a passion and community with her fellow equestrian trainers who inspire her, Lussan looks to translate these lessons to the Drew Equestrian team. Her goal this year is “to be successful as a team, have fun and hopefully make more Drew current and potential new recruits aware that Drew has an Equestrian team.” Lussan’s goal for her time in The Forest is to grow its Equestrian Team.