Q&A: Megan McIver

San Mateo resident and skilled horsewoman in the sport of eventing discusses how she cares for 32 steeds while training up-and-coming equestrians, and why horses make the best teachers.

How do you describe eventing to non-equestrians?
Three-day eventing is like a horse triathlon. In the first, dressage, the horse and rider perform a series of movements in front of a judge. Then in cross-country, the horse and rider jump over obstacles such as logs, cabins, ditches and water complexes at almost maximum speed. Finally the pair, now exhausted, undergo a course of show jumping fences. The sport itself is just wild!

What draws you to horses?
Horses aren’t necessarily like dogs. They’re not the companion type. But they form this unique partnership with their riders. It’s like a language that only the two of you can speak. Horses can also sense your emotions both on the ground and atop their back.

Can you share a cool horse-related fact?
Horses can’t breathe through their mouths!

What’s unique about your work?
This is the best job in the world, but it comes with a lot of sacrifice. Horses don’t believe in “business hours.” They don’t know what holidays like Christmas and New Year’s are. They need us seven days a week. But to me, it is a small price to pay for the joy these incredible creatures bring to us.

How many horses are in your care?
I currently have 32 horses in my program. I manage their feeding, general care, veterinary care and, of course, riding and training.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Wake up at 5AM, arrive at the barn by 6:30. From 6:30 to 8AM, teach lessons to high school kids before they go to class. From 8AM to 3PM, ride and train personal and client horses. From 3 until 7PM, train students after school or work. Repeat.

If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
Time manipulation. There are never enough hours in the day!

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
Watching the horses be the teachers. Oftentimes, before I can even say it, the horse has pointed out a rider’s mistake for me. They have a wonderful way of communicating their emotions—we just have to learn how to listen.

Describe your perfect Peninsula day.
Start with CorePower for hot yoga. Grab a Peet’s coffee after with a friend. Head to the Horse Park at Woodside. Ride a few of my favorite horses: Rupert, Sparrow, Elle and Secret. Dinner at Amour Amour in San Mateo.

What age would you choose to be again and why?
I am 27 years old, and I think I would like to stay this age forever! I am still young enough that I can ride 10 horses a day and not feel it, but definitely wiser than my 20-year-old self.

Do you collect anything?
Horses, of course! There’s always room for one more.