Michelle Tanaka | 25 | USA
Riding experience: Michelle began riding aged 13 with her Irish gelding. She started when he was three and, although green rider plus green horse usually equals black and blue, they made it work and she learnt how to sit a buck before she knew how to leg yield. Her best moment on a horse was during a three-week trek in the Himalayas crossing a fast flowing, wide and probably very cold river. Being several inches shorter than everyone else Michelle wasn't thrilled with the prospect, so roped in two Nepalese men crossing the river upstream. Their hardy ponies saved the day, and she didn't have to get her socks wet.
Michelle has ridden horses in the US, the UK, Ireland, Argentina, Australia, and Nepal and was on the NYU Equestrian team with fellow Derby rider Kathryn Whitney and 2012 rider Julie Youngblood (joint 7th place).
Outdoor/survival experience: After graduating from NYU Michelle hit the road and hasn’t stopped since. She’s trekked in the Himalayas, taken the Trans-Siberian Railroad in January and been dog sledding in Siberia the hard way (with competition dogs on racing rigs and handlers with no English). Most recently she has been living all over New South Wales in a tent and planting over quarter of a million trees.
Michelle is raising money for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).