Emily Deveau is the best athlete at Revere High School whom you’ve probably never seen in competition.
That’s because the 16-year-old RHS senior isn’t performing her feats of athleticism at Hill Park or the Merullo Fieldhouse. Deveau has been winning a slew of ribbons far away from this city and she’s preparing to become a collegiate competitor in a sport few truly appreciate or understand: equestrian.
Deveau is a highly skilled horseback rider who competes in about eight equestrian events a year. Aboard her horse, Classical Thunder [who once raced at Suffolk Downs] at an event Sunday at West Newbury Riding and Driving Club, Deveau received a sixth place award in dressage. Earlier this year, she had a first-place finish aboard her own 11-year-old thoroughbred, Murray.
Deveau is a multi-talented young lady, but equestrian is now her No. 1 pastime. She is an accomplished dancer with 14 years of training at Nicole Zervis Academy in Revere. Emily has played tennis and sailed at the Winthrop Yacht Club, but she knew soon after her mother, Christine, a former rider herself, introduced her to horseback riding, that she had found her passion.
“I had my first pony ride [at Hunter’s Haven in Groveland, Mass., where she still rides and is employed] when I was two and I started riding by myself when I was six or seven,” said Emily. “My mother took up equestrian when she was a kid and my older sister also did it for a year.’
Deveau took horseback riding lessons at Hunter’s Haven and attended instructional camps in the summer. She participated in her first equestrian show when she was eight years old.
“It was hard at first to understand it all, but I trained a lot and it became easier to ride, but now at the level I’m that, there’s not a day that’s not a challenge,” said Deveau.
To be an accomplished rider, you need strength in your legs and your abdominal muscles. Deveau also said that you need good balance to go along with the communication you must develop with the 1,200-pound horse as it’s galloping and preparing to jump over a series of fences.
“When you’re riding, they teach you to squeeze your stomach really tightly – you make a straight line from your head to your shoulder to your hip to your heel. And your stomach has to be tight and it helps if you sit really deeply in your saddle. And that’s how you keep your horse balanced and moving with you instead of against you and fighting you.”
Deveau’s ascension to a championship-caliber equestrian has taken many hours of practice.
“I train six or seven days a week,” said Deveau, who received her Massachusetts automobile driver’s license Saturday. “I work at Hunter’s Haven and after my job is over, I’ll ride two or three horses.”
At equestrian events, Deveau competes in three phases: dressage, cross country [16 jumps spread out over a long, winding course], and stadium [nine jumps over a shorter course].
Deveau is gearing up her next equestrian competition to be held at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton. She’s begun to reach out to college equestrian teams and intends to visit Texas A & M University and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Auburn University, and Murray State are also on her list of colleges.
A very good student, Deveau has already earned scholarship to UMass/Amherst. She is taking Advanced Placement courses at Revere High and is a member of the Student Council and a Power of No leader. She also competes for the indoor track team.
But for the rest of this summer, Emily Deveau is doing what she does best and enjoys the most.
“There’s such an adrenaline rush when you’re riding,” said Deveau. “No matter what anyone thinks, you’re always in control of the horse. And you always have a great relationship with your horse. Even when my horse eats my popsicles, he’s still the greatest thing ever."