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September 1 2014

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Model Slash: Equestrienne Sojourner Morrell

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They’ve got the face, the body, a portfolio full of ad campaigns and editorials shot by top photographers in the industry, and a runway roster to match. But in our new Model Slash column, Style.com profiles girls whose ambitions and drive extend beyond the catwalk.

After she starred in Prada’s Resort ’12 lookbook just about a year ago, Sojourner Morrell‘s modeling career kicked up from trotting pace to a full gallop. Since then, the 21-year-old has parlayed her androgynous appeal to appearances on the past four Chanel runways (plus turns at Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent, among others) and editorials for the likes of Vogue Italia (she covered the April “Prom Night” issue), Love, and Another magazines. While Morrell quickly adjusted to the jet-setting lifestyle and fancy clothes, her favorite place to be is back in the saddle. “I grew up partially on a farm in New Jersey, and we had donkeys, goats, you name it. My parents finally gave me riding lessons for my sixth birthday,” she tells Style.com.

For the next ten years, Morrell rigorously studied and competed in equestrian sports. She made headlines as the first female student accepted into the 440-year-old Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which specializes in classical dressage. “If you ride horses, you know about that school,” she said. “I didn’t really expect anything when I wrote to them but thought, it can’t hurt. To my surprise, they invited me for an interview, watched me ride, and then invited me to join.” The program, which requires a whopping 10-year commitment, eventually proved to be too strict for Morrell (being the only foreigner training with a group of older men would, after all, make many girls homesick), so she moved back to New York to pursue modeling full-time. Now she takes advantage of her somewhat flexible schedule and rides in Westchester whenever possible. “Dressage is about feeling in sync with the horse’s muscles and enhancing its natural movement—kind of like gymnastics or dance. You’re not forcing anything; it should be graceful,” Morrell says. “The physical relationship you have with the horse is kind of like that of a musician. A violinist, for example, can play all the right notes but the song won’t sound right unless there’s that synchronized feeling.” So did any of those horseback exercises pay off in the modeling world? Great posture, Morrell reports, always comes in handy.

Photo: Courtesy of Sojourner Morrell

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