My story

I was only five years old, but it felt like coming home!

I was born in 1999 in the United States, to be more precisely in the city of Houston. My dad already had a connection with the US for a long time. He went to university there and had lived in the US for thirteen years. Shortly after I was born we moved to Turkey, my parents’ homeland, and I grew up in Istanbul. 

From an early age it was clear that I had something with animals in general and horses in particular. From the stories I heard and the pictures I’ve seen it seems my hobby at the time was riding one of our big St. Bernard dogs. 

My grandfather noticed and decided to take me to the riding school located in the middle of Istanbul. I was only five years old, but it felt like coming home! I ended up going there almost every day for riding and taking care of the ponies. As my parents had to wait every time they decided to take some riding lessons too. In no time my whole family was infected with the horse virus!


Dressage as a sport did not really exist in our country

I got my first pony when I was seven. For sure she was a nice pony, but on the other hand a typical mare and pretty stubborn. She actually made me never want another mare again. I was not particularly involved in dressage at the time. Dressage as a sport did not really exist in our country. It was all about showjumping. I also practiced this discipline, with a lot of fun and success, although sometimes things went wrong with that stubborn pony of mine.

My dad felt showjumping was getting too dangerous. Meanwhile, he had immersed himself into dressage and became my trainer. He wanted me to focus on dressage more. I secretly continued jumping, but my dad found out anyway. Gradually dressage became my passion. It went really well, which I enjoyed as I am competitive by nature.


At the age of twelve I started at Small Tour level

We bought my first real dressage horse in Belgium. That was Nick, a super sweet horse. With him I won all national competitions in Turkey and at the age of twelve I started at Small Tour level. Okay, this was by Turkish standards, but nevertheless we had made it together. We also had some bad luck. Nick got injured every time there was a big championship ahead.
That’s why I competed with Sjonnie, my dad’s horse, at my first international show, the 2011 FEI Balkan Championships. We finished second in the Children’s class and a year later we also made it to the prize-giving ceremony at the same championships in Athens. That tasted like moreish!


With Donna I directly had a connection

At the age of fourteen, I knew I wanted to be a professional dressage rider. In 2014, we therefore decided to return to Europe and find a real top horse for me. After an intense search during which I tried dozens of horses – with of course no mares among them – I had almost given up finding the right horse. But then somebody showed me Donna. At first I was not interested, because she was a mare.
Nevertheless I decided to give it a try. We could always go home afterwards. Once I sat on her and had ridden one round I stopped and said to my mother: “Could you please call dad? This is the horse I want.” I really had a connection with her. She was so friendly and really gave a fantastic feeling. When riding a horse like that I just can’t stop smiling!


Because of the dressage sport I moved to the Netherlands

I managed to instantly qualify myself and Donna for the 2014 Europeans Championships in Arezzo. One year later we were also present at the Europeans in Vidauban. During those years I travelled back and forth between Turkey and the Netherlands, where I trained with Nicolette van Leeuwen. She taught me a lot and at a certain moment it was time for a new step. That’s why we approached Anky van Grunsven. We knew she had a fantastic track record as a trainer. In July 2015, Donna moved to Anky’s stables and shortly after that I moved to the Netherlands with my parents.
We had our first highlight at the Europeans in Oliva, close to Valencia. Donna and I managed to score a fourth place in the team test and finished fifth in the individual test and freestyle! In consultation with Anky I decided to start competing at Young Riders level after that. We immediately won our international debut at the Roosendaal CDI. That felt so special! After my period with Anky I decided to take a next step and started training with German Helen Langehanenberg.


My dream is competing at the Olympic Games

The year 2017 also had an exceptional onset. Already since 2014 I knew that I wanted to change my rider nationality. I really liked to ride for the United States. Although I have lived in Turkey for most of my life, I have always felt more American than Turkish. It gives a sense of pride to ride for the American flag. I know that I may not have taken the easiest path by making this choice.
As a Turkish rider it would be easier to fulfill my dream: competing at the Olympic Games. Nevertheless I don’t want to be at the Games just to participate. I want to really be good when it get there. The nationality change gives me the opportunity to compete against top-class competitors and I thankfully seize this opportunity.


My most important results

It's more fun when you're winning! 😉

2018

Aachen Dressage Days (Ger), Young Riders
1st team test, 70,39% (Donna Ray)
1st individual test, 71,08% (Donna Ray)

2017

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Young Riders
1st freestyle, 74,25% (Donna Ray)
2nd individual test, 70,00% (Donna Ray)

CDI Exloo (Ned), Young Riders
1st team test, 71,54% (Donna Ray)
1st individual test, 72,06% (Donna Ray)
1st freestyle, 75,63% (Donna Ray)

CDI Sint-Truiden (Bel), Young Riders
1st team test, 70.66% (Donna Ray)
1st individual test, 72.68% (Donna Ray)
1st freestyle, 75.93% (Donna Ray)

2016

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Young Riders
1st team test, 71.62% (Donna Ray)
2nd individual test, 71.18% (Donna Ray)
2nd freestyle, 75.21% (Donna Ray)

European Championship Oliva (Spa), Juniors
4th team test, 73.78% (Donna Ray)
5th individual test, 73.37% (Donna Ray)
5th freestyle, 76.23% (Donna Ray)

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Juniors
3rd team test, 71.26% (Donna Ray)

CDI Nieuw en Sint Joosland (Ned), Juniors
3rd individual test, 71.14% (Donna Ray)

CDI Lier (Bel), Juniors
2nd team test, 71.46% (Donna Ray)
3rd freestyle, 73.83% (Donna Ray)

2015

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Juniors
2nd freestyle, 74.13% (Donna Ray)
3rd individual test, 69.56% (Donna Ray)

CDI Lier (Bel), Juniors
2nd team test, 71.53% (Donna Ray)

European Championship Vidauban (Fra), Juniors
23rd team test, 69.38% (Donna Ray)
31st individual test, 67.90% (Donna Ray)

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Juniors
3rd individual test, 71.10% (Donna Ray)

CDI Nieuw en Sint Joosland (Ned), Juniors
3rd freestyle, 73.08% (Donna Ray)

CDI Vidauban (Fra), Juniors
3rd freestyle, 72.42% (Donna Ray)

2014

CDI Roosendaal (Ned), Juniors
1st team test, 71.04% (Donna Ray)
3rd individual test, 68.33% (Donna Ray)

European Championship Arezzo (Ita), Juniors
27th team test, 68.51% (Donna Ray)
49th individual test, 64.79% (Donna Ray)

CDI Istanbul (Tur), Juniors
1st freestyle, 69.05% (Sjonnie)

2012

Balkan Championships, Athens (Gre), Children
3rd final ranking (Sjonnie)

2011

Balkan Championships, Istanbul (Tur), Children
2nd final ranking (Sjonnie)


Look here at my results