Student Spotlight: Ema Klugman

May 6, 2024
Ema Klugman riding a horse while it's doing a trick

Ema Klugman, Class of 2024, is on the long list for the Paris 2024 Olympic Summer Games, riding for the Australian Three-Day Eventing Team. We asked her a couple of questions regarding her time as a professional equestrian and a full-time law student at GW Law. Here's what she said:

Ema Klugman riding a horse while it's going over poles

1. How do you balance the demands of being a professional equestrian aiming for the Olympics with your studies in law?

Time management is key. I ride 3-5 horses every day, which means I do at least 3 hours of intense training. I then have to commute into the city to attend classes and spend the remaining hours studying. I have to plan my days and weeks very carefully. At big competitions, my studies often take a back seat, but then I catch up in my classes when the competition season slows down a bit. We often plan our calendars months and even years in advance, so I am always looking ahead to see how I can manage my academic schedule with my professional eventing schedule. I can fit it all in, but it requires a lot of planning! 

One example of this kind of planning was that I looked ahead to the summer season and possible Olympic selection, and realized that the dates of the Olympics conflicted with the July bar exam. Thus, I decided to take the February bar exam in Virginia a couple of months ago, to get it done so that I could focus on riding this summer. Luckily, I passed the bar in February, so I won't have to take it in July.

2. Are there any parallels you've noticed between the disciplines of equestrianism and the study of law?

There are absolutely some similarities. Riding a horse is as much mental as it is physical. We have to do a lot of thinking about how to prepare for the competitions and how to train our horses, and at the big competitions, our focus and our mental game have to be very strong. The best riders are thoughtful, analytical, creative, and sympathetic. The best lawyers are the same, I think. Studying law has probably made me a better rider because as they say, law school teaches you how to think analytically. At the same time, riding and competing at the highest level of my sport has probably made me a better law student, and I hope it will make me a great lawyer.

3. Can you share a dream or goal that you have for yourself, either in equestrianism or in your legal career, beyond the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games?

My twin dreams are to win a 5* eventing competition (there are only seven 5* events in the world, and it is very hard to win them!) and to become a judge.

Ema Klugman walking next to a horse

4. What advice would you give to aspiring equestrians or law students who may be inspired by your journey?

My advice would be that if you love something enough, you can find a way to make time for it. Several people told me to give up horses when I decided to go to law school-- they said that law school was like a full-time job, and there was no way that I could do both. But here I am doing it. With the right systems in place, and with diligence and focus, we can accomplish a great deal.