This week I’m thrilled to be chatting with Thailand’s first ever international U25 & Grand Prix dressage rider Pam Suphakamol Vuntanadit. Based in Belgium, Pam has just graduated from a Masters degree and rides full time. This incredible groundbreaking athlete is leading the way for more Thai dressage riders to follow. Read on to discover more about Pam, her ambitions, and top tips for success
Tell us about you and your horses
Hi. My name is Pam Suphakamol Vuntanadit and it is my ambition to pave the way for Thai dressage on an international platform. In 2017, I was the first Thai dressage rider to compete at Young Riders level with my horse, Hermes. In 2021, I became the first Thai dressage rider to represent my country at the U25 Grand Prix level. Now at the age of 24, I am the first ever international Grand Prix dressage rider for Thailand with my top horse, Dreamboat BCN (or known amongst our team as Dreamie).
I have been based in Europe with my mother and younger sister for the past six years. Being in Europe has allowed me to pursue my passion for dressage but also my academic studies at the same time. I have just graduated from my Master’s degree in Corporate and Commercial Law from Maastricht University, so now I am fully dedicated to my horses.
How did your horses come into your life?
We would always look for horses around the world but always end up with the ones we least expect! I guess this is what you call ‘destiny’.
How long have you been riding?
Both my sister and I always had a love for animals since we were young. So, our love for horses definitely grew from there. I started riding since the age of seven at a small club in the outskirts of Bangkok. Until now, I have spent over half of my life of almost 17 years with horses.
When and where do you ride?
My horses are based at the Begijnhoeve in Belgium. There is not a single day in the week that I don’t see my horses; I ride almost every day and we are lucky to have an apartment close to the stables as well.
How did you start riding?
Coming from Thailand, we didn’t have the same exposure to horses and equestrian sports like in Europe. However, it was my father who introduced us to horses and horse-riding. He would always tell us stories about how he rode horses at the beach with his family and how much fun he had. So, I guess this is how it all started for me.
What are you and your horses currently working on?
Relaxation and keeping things simple.
What do you love about riding?
I love how this sport challenges all your boundaries, both physically and mentally. Equestrian sport is highly demanding on every part of your body because you have to stay balanced while keeping in motion with your horse. Moreover, you are also forced maintain your unwavering focus and concentration while dealing with unexpected situations all the time.
What would you like to be doing in the future and do you have any goals?
It has always been my dream to represent my country, Thailand, at the Olympics with my sister.
Have you ever had to deal with nerves in riding?
All the time! I still recall my last show in Hagen when I had to share the ring with riders whom I have always looked up to since I started riding. The entire experience was so surreal, and I was probably the most nervous I have ever been.
How do you deal with them?
Personally, I find image training very helpful in helping me deal with my nerves. Especially for competitions, I would always arrive at the showgrounds early to get used to the atmosphere. It is super important for me to have time for myself where I can visualise myself in the ring and how I would prepare for each exercise in the test. Additionally, I think it is helpful to have someone to talk to during these nervous times. I always discuss everything with my sister, especially about planning my warming up routine and how to solve certain problems that I might encounter. These two things really help me deal with my nerves and give me a peace of mind before entering the ring.
Your Top Tip
My top tip would be to always immerse yourself in what you are passionate about. You can never stop learning in this sport and you learn something new every day when you work with horses. Even when you are not in the saddle, you can always find ways to gain more knowledge and improve yourself as a rider and as a horseman. It is also super important to surround yourself with a supportive and dedicated team consisting of grooms, veterinarians, osteopaths, farriers, saddle-fitters, fitness coaches, nutritionists and sponsors who share the same vision and passion as you do!
Down the Centre Line
Who would be your dream horse to ride?
Definitely my sister’s horse, Wall Street.
Who is your equestrian hero?
Ohh…I can’t choose just one person!
If you could have 5 people to dinner who would they be?
I would love to spend time with my team: Patty (my sister), Julie (my show groom), Jelle (my horses’ osteopath), Lothar (my horses’ sports veterinarian) and Michiel (our saddle-fitter). These people are a small part of our team who have been with us through thick and thin and have seen us progress to where we are today. This is why I would love to treat them all to a nice dinner.
Favourite colour horse?
Black. I love the aura and the mysterious energy of horses with this colour.
Favourite horse event?
CHIO Aachen. Having started my dressage career in Europe in Aachen, I was always fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to bring my horses for the prize-giving ceremonies and I even had the chance to participate in the opening show ‘Horses and Symphony’ in 2018 along with my sister and my first horse, Escudo.
Favourite way to relax?
Complaining to my sister about everything
Not really a fan of movies, but I prefer to binge watch Korean series.
If you enjoyed meeting Pam you might like to view more dressage rider “chatting with” interviews here You can keep up with Pam’s progress and check out her instagram page here