When Sloane Coles cantered onto the field of the International Ring at Spruce Meadows during the ‘Masters’ Tournament, she had to pinch herself. She had donned a pinque coat for the first time, had a U.S. flag sewn onto her breast pocket for the first time, and sat astride a very special horse. It was, quite literally, a dream come true.

While Sloane has been dreaming of competing for her country since her days in the pony ranks, it was her budding partnership with a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding that helped her achieve her goals. She got the ride on Chippendale’s Boy DZ last year and was named to her first NetJets U.S. Jumping Nations Cup team this summer before heading to the Spruce Meadows CSIO5* in Calgary, Alberta, to ride alongside U.S. teammates McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, and Charlie Jacobs. 

The experience was all the things Sloane expected it to be: exhilarating, gratifying, and maybe a little scary. But, she did her best to also make it a learning experience. She soaked up all she could from the events that led up to her first CSIO5* jump and is still reveling in the moments that came after. Here are five things she learned from her first Nations Cup: 

1. Dreams do come true.

“I did the summer series at Spruce Meadows and jumped clear in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. After the class, a lot of people were approaching me and encouraging me to apply for the team in the fall. I thought it would be a long shot, but I did it because I was confident my horse was comfortable and competitive at that venue. 

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