Starring : Tara Gallagher Couch, Prestige Rider of the Longines Masters of Los Angeles
Thursday 17th September 2015 Los Angeles
Tara Gallagher Couch first stepped into the competition ring at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles last year, and she’ll return again in October with two new mounts. The amateur/owner rider is based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, but trains on the East Coast, keeping pace with an impressive show schedule that features the best events in North America. With the Masters, Couch’s fall indoor season begins. Read on to find out how she’s preparing for the show and what impressed her so much in the event’s inaugural year that she’s coming back for a second time.
How are you and your horses preparing for the competition?
I am training on the East Coast with Nicki Shahinian-Simpson. We have done some big shows this year with strong competition. When I am not competing at a show, I am working out in the gym and training the horses I have at home. 
What did you learn from the experience of showing at last year’s event, and what did you like best about the format?
I thought the format was very exciting. Each day presented strong classes with great prize money. Most of our shows in the U.S. are five or more days long. The shorter week for the Longines Masters means you really don’t have a warm-up round; you need to be ready when you walk into the ring for the first time. For a lot of us, this is our first indoor show of the season, going from big outdoor rings to a small indoor. This is a transition for both the horses and the riders.
One of the things I find really cool at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles is how they lay out the shopping area adjacent to the warm-up ring. At most shows, the warm-up ring is quite hidden from the spectators. At the Masters, it is at the center from the entrance, surrounded by shops and places to sit and have a drink. The event really makes it accessible to the spectators.
What will you be sure to pack into your trunks for your horses for the trip?
Charleigh’s Cookies! It’s pretty easy to keep my mares happy with a big bucket of Charleigh’s cookies—they are easily won over!
What will you be sure to pack for yourself?
My sparkly Samshield helmet. It has blue Swarovski crystals, and I only use it on special occasions! And there aren’t too many others more special than riding in the LA Masters.
What are your favorite places to visit or things to do in Los Angeles?
I find being at LA Masters is like being in Vegas: you are there and up almost around the clock and have no concept of time! It is like Vegas for the horse obsessed. If there is some extra time then my husband and I have a list of favorite LA restaurants, shopping areas and of course, the beach!
How does the competition fit into your overall show season?
This year, it is kicking off the fall season for me showing on the West Coast. I have been on the East Coast competing all year so it is going to be wonderful to be home on the West Coast and to see friends. 
Have you set a particular goal to achieve at the show?
My goal is always to learn something from every class I go in and to do the best I can for my horses. I am most competitive against myself and fairly critical of my mistakes. I have two new horses this year, and this will be our very first indoor venue together, so I am really looking forward to getting to know them better in this setting.
Which of your favorite riders are you excited to see at the show?
I think it is always fun to see the international riders that we don’t see on a regular basis in America. That being said, I have so much respect for our top American riders and our Under-25 riders that are our future in the sport.  
What does it mean to you to ride at the LA Masters?
It’s such a great opportunity to have a top, international show in California. It is really a blessing to be able to be part of it!