Most people know the blonde bombshell, Stormy Daniels, from the political headlines over the last few years. But she swears her life isn’t all that scandalous.
Stormy, 41, is an adult film star, dancer, author, mother, and more importantly, an eventer. Yeah, you read that right. She’s been an equestrian nearly all her life. And no matter what your political beliefs are, her fierce love for the sport and for the animal transcends the drama. At the end of the day, she just wants to ride and spend time with her horse, just like the rest of us.
Heels Down Mag sat down for an exclusive interview with Stormy, which we first published in March 2019 in the Heels Down Brief. We’re republishing our AMA with Stormy now, where she opens up about the eventing community, her horses, and life on the road.
How did you get into riding?
“No one in my family rides. It really came out of nowhere. I must have been born this way. I didn’t play with Barbies. It was always horse stuff. I remember building a ‘stall’ in my garage for my bike.
When I was 11, I changed schools and met a girl who took riding lessons. I forced this poor girl Miranda to be my friend. Her mom was kind enough to drive me to lessons over the years. We’re actually still friends today.
I got my first horse at 12. It’s a pretty funny story. My stepfather got a $500 bonus for work. He gave it to me to go Christmas shopping when he was drunk. I had been riding for less than six months at the time, but I used the $500 to buy a horse. She was this mean, sick and totally underweight OTTB mare. She looked awful. I couldn’t ride her for months because she was so sick. I don’t even know how I survived this recipe for disaster. She was 3-4 years older than me, pin-fired on every leg, and had two bowed tendons. But she was the best horse I ever had. I had never even cantered a jump before I got her, but she took me all the way to training level in eventing.
Her name was Perfect Jade. She died when I was 18. And after that, I didn’t ride anymore. Not for almost 10 years. Fast forward to now and I have eight horses and have returned to eventing.”
“When I started riding at 11, I was at a hunter/jumper barn. We were poor. I rode in rubber boots and my saddle had duct tape on it. None of my clothes fit. And my horse clearly wasn’t a hunter. I just couldn’t win.
I moved barns for convenience, and began working with a trainer who did combined training. That’s what we called eventing back then. I realized while riding there how eventing was judged so differently than the hunters. It didn’t matter how much money you spent.
Dressage, yes, is probably a little bit subjective. But the jumping, you either win or you don’t.
And once you start eventing, there’s no way you’re ever going back to the hunters.”
Tell us how you almost quit riding for good, and what made you come back?
“When I was 18, and had just moved out, I couldn’t afford a horse anymore. I was with a guy for most of that period, and he wouldn’t let me ride. He used to tell me I couldn’t risk it. That if I fell off, my career would be ruined, and I should focus on making movies and dancing. Then when I retired, I could have as many horses as I wanted.
But that didn’t work out. I couldn’t wait that long. I have eight horses how.
I went through a lot of issues where in a six month period, my competition horse was crippled and later died. My husband’s horse died too. And at the time, I was like, ‘I’m done.’ I made this emotional post about it on Facebook and Dom Schramm saw it. We knew each other a little because I had reached out to him to give my husband riding lessons. My husband wanted to ride with a man, but didn’t want someone stuffy. My husband has tattoos, he’s a musician. He needed someone who was going to sync with him. So I seriously just Googled, ‘cool, young riding instructor’ and Dom came up. We brought him down for a clinic and I bought five spots for it just to make sure he came. It was the best thing I ever did.
“And once you start eventing, there’s no way you’re ever going back to the hunters.”
Dom wrote me this letter that was so heartfelt and genuine. He told me he was going to Ireland, and said he wanted to find me a horse. I told him I don’t want a horse, especially from another country. I’d never imported a horse before. But he insisted. I remember asking him why are you doing this for me? And he told me, ‘a long time ago somebody did something really nice for me, and I wouldn’t be riding if it wasn’t for that. I want to pay it forward.’
He called me from Ireland and told me he found this horse. He sent me a picture of this small plain bay. I thought he was ugly – all my other horses were big and strikingly beautiful. I didn’t want it.
But Dom said, ‘I know you don’t know me very well but this horse is priced extremely well. I have a strong gut feeling that this is your horse. Buy him and I’ll show him for you. And we’ll sell him if you decide you don’t want him.’
I wanted to hate the horse. But he did really well with Dom when he came over. He won everything, everywhere. He qualified for the AECs after being in the country for just two months. His name is Cooley Renaissance Man, or Leo, and I love him.”
How do you balance riding with a crazy schedule & all the time you spend on the road?
“A really cool thing about the eventing community is how awesome and open-minded everyone is. When I’m on tour, I bring all my riding stuff with me. Eventers reach out when I’m in the area. I’ve taken lessons with Cindy Deporter and Lainey Ashker while on the road. And they let me ride their nice show horses. It’s awesome. People reach out everywhere I go. The only reason I’ve been able to keep riding is through the generosity of eventers. I feel like that’s not the way it works in other sports. I don’t know if I’m even that nice, to put people on my nice horses.
Being away all the time is really hard. I can’t stand it. I’ll go home and ride for a couple of days in a row and I’ll cry when I have to leave Leo. Other trainers will ride him for me, like Dom, but it’s kind of like watching someone else have sex with your girlfriend. I want to be able to ride. I wish I could freeze my horse, and put him in a time capsule so he can wait for me.
Another super cool thing about the eventing community is that they come to my performances. A lot of famous riders, more than you’d think, come and support me or they’ve bought me lunch when I’m in town. That’s how I know I picked the right sport.
It’s funny because all my bodyguards, my poor manager, my assistant and even my bus driver know eventers come with a warning. They’re obviously not horse people but they go, “Are the eventers coming to party? Oh crap. We need to put tarps down. Eventers get crunk, yo!”
For better or worse, your name has been all over the news. How does that affect your ability to ride and compete?
“I can’t wait until I can compete again. It was never an issue before, going to shows. I don’t show under the name ‘Stormy Daniels’. When you’re in a helmet and all the gear it’s harder to be recognized. But I am pretty flamboyant. My horses all have my signature lightning bolt shaved into their asses.
” The only reason I’ve been able to keep riding is through the generosity of eventers.”
I am worried to show. I love eventing so much. But I worry that when I ride up centerline, what if the judge is a Trump fan or a Republican? I’m scared they could judge me harsher.
What’s even worse is I worry for my horses. Eventing entries are all public. It’s not hard for someone to put something in my horse’s water bucket at a show. Not the other competitors obviously, horse people aren’t like that. But a mad, crazy person who just shows up. The last show I did I had my bodyguard, a 6’5” man who knows nothing about horses, stand in front of my horse’s stall the entire time. He knew not to let anyone by except a handful of people.
Our next show we are supposed to go prelim. Which is amazing. I never dreamed I would ever get to prelim. Maybe I need to install cameras at shows. But seriously thinking about all that just makes me not want to show anymore.”