Kendall Jenner stables her horses at an unpretentious show barn called Huntover. It sits in an achingly romantic little spot tucked away in the gated community of Bell Canyon, California, about five miles from where she grew up in Calabasas. Huntover is owned by a genial, middle-aged gay man, Mark Bone, whom Kendall has known since she was thirteen, when she used to ride and train with him at a bigger facility not far from here.
“This is my little baaarn!” shouts Kendall, looking impossibly cool in skintight black riding breeches as she strides through a dramatic, Mission-style archway toward where Mark and I are standing, just outside her two stalls. Her horses, Belle and Dylan—both European warmblood mares trained as jumpers—sway their heads and whinny at the sound of their owner’s voice. Kendall feeds them treats from the palm of her hand and zips into a pair of black leather half chaps as she and Mark chitchat about horse people, including Bella and Gigi Hadid,
who are also accomplished riders.
“Where are you off to this time?” he soon asks, drolly teasing the highest-paid model in the world. “New York,” she says. “It’s Fashion . . . Month.” She rolls her eyes. “But I’m only doing a week.” This is one of the reasons Kendall has been able to start seriously riding again: After a few years of nonstop work, she has pulled back a bit from the grind of being at the top of the modeling world.
It’s a warm February morning, and the fog is just burning off. Kendall is here to ride Dyl, as she calls her, a horse she’s had for only two weeks. As Kendall makes her way over to the mounting block, Dyl is spooked by a couple of dogs sitting under a tree. “Oh, you’re afraid of the dogs,” coos Kendall. The relationship between rider and horse is a very particular thing—there is chemistry and courtship involved, a period of getting used to each other’s idiosyncrasies. Horse people have an expression about getting a new one: buying a friend. For someone who suffered from severe acne as a kid and had trouble making friends, Kendall’s connection to such sensitive creatures was not just formative; it was crucial. “I’m still learning her,” says Kendall. “It’s gonna take a couple months. It’s like with any person: You fall in love and then you feel each other out.” What do you know so far? “She’s a really good girl. She listens. She’s smart.”
Kendall heads into the ring and takes Dyl through some easy paces. She got her first pony when she was ten, and as a young teenager she helped out a woman who owned several horses. “I rode with this lady from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., rode all her horses for her every day.” And then in ninth grade Kendall came out of her shell: She got a boyfriend and became a cheerleader. When she started modeling, not long after that, the riding stopped altogether. “Worst thing I ever did,” she says.
Belle came along about a year ago, right around the time that Kendall was feeling burned-out. She hadn’t had a real break in three and a half years and was suffering from debilitating anxiety and Mysterious, intense neck pain. She began to dread getting on planes. “I made it a point at the beginning of 2017 to consciously slow down, take more time for myself, be more selective and not just do whatever my agents tell me to do.” All of which brought her back to the barn. “I did this my whole life—it was my life. I didn’t care for anything else, I didn’t care about boys. This is what makes me really happy.” She has since realized that she wants to go to shows—to jump again. “That’s why I got Dyl.” (It’s also why she’s committed herself to Transcendental Meditation. “I had a lot of people in the industry say to me, ‘I know you have a busy schedule—what do you do to stay calm, cool, and collected?’ I was like, ‘Um, nothing?’ And then one day, when I was having a freak-out—I was having multiple freak-outs—I was like, OK, I’m going to try this. So I found this lady, she’s awesome, she taught me TM, and I love it.”)
A few minutes later, Mark is at the center of the ring as Kendall canters in loops around him. She rides up to where I am standing at the fence. “We’re trying to think of an alias for me for when I go to shows, because I want to be under the radar,” she says.
“What’s your middle name?” I ask.
“Nicole,” says Kendall. “What about Nicole Dylan?”
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