It’s been a while since we’ve had a featured rider on TSAB. As I was thinking about who I wanted to invite to be part of this project I realised that my friend Alex Murray, with so many different and incredible experiences under her belt …
Tag: Featured Rider
One of the things that I love the most about Instagram is the incredible equestrian community that I have found. Recently I have got to know some riders from the Hunter Jumper world. One such rider is Shaunna Angell from @spurandsnaffle Shaunna keeps her horses on …
Meet Jessie Smith South Australian dressage and show rider, who also happens to be the first Australian featured rider! At just 18 and 21 Jessie and Storm respectively have already achieved some big things. Her recent accomplishments include finishing in the top 10 at the Interschool National Championships last year, being a finalist for the Showhorse/Dressage Scholarship and being named on the 2018 South Australian Youth Development Dressage Squad.
Like the first spark of an electrical storm Jessie’s love of horses was a flash that instantly lit up her young world. She explains how this interest came about, ‘I have loved horses since before I can remember, apparently I used to watch the ‘big girls’(who were about 6) compete at the Royal Adelaide Show and want to be just like them! I started riding when I was 5, at a little riding school called Nara in the Adelaide Hills. I loved it because it was just like Pine Hollow in Saddle Club!”
Just one month after her fourteenth birthday Jessie was diagnosed with the rare condition Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. This initially affected her right leg, but has since spread through to her left leg, hips, spine and right wrist. Despite her condition having significant impacts upon her riding, Equestrian Australia has not been able to classify her. This means that she competes in open calsses against able bodied riders. Fortunately Jessie is able to use several approved exemptions including Velcro straps, girth strap, a rubber band, two whips and voice commands as well as not having to rise trot.
Jessie says, “I continued riding normally until 2015 when in January we introduced 2 whips, and by April I could no longer rise trot, and the little use I had left in my right leg was gone. Being partially paralysed through my right side means that I can’t get any weight down my right side so without Velcro straps over my thighs, my stirrup attached to my girth, and my foot tied into my stirrup with a rubber band, I slide off to the side and can’t get myself back. I can’t tell when I’m siding which makes it a little difficult sometimes. The horses have learnt to accept normal legs aids from a whip instead, and slight shifts in weight/ body position allow us to achieve inside bend/leg yield etc. Just as it all became very difficult in 2015, we met our phenomenal coach Megan Jones, who has been right by us every step of the way. Megan has just shown us a different path to get to the same destination.’
“I have the pleasure of dancing with two wonderful partners. My best mate of 5 years, Northern Storm or Stormy has been by my side through everything. He is a 14.3 7/8 21 year old STB, who is also the first standardbred to compete and place at Equestrian South Australia Horse Of The Year, Show Horse Council Horse Of the Year, Interschool Nationals, South Australian Dressage State Championships. Together we are also on the 2018 SA YR dressage squad, and have been state finalists on two SA Scholarship Squads. He tries his heart out in everything he does, and has never let me down, he does however have a bit of an attitude haha!”
New to the barn is Kiwi (aka Fire Storm) an a 8yr old 16.2 TB Gelding, according to Jessie, he looks and moves like a warmblood. “He was purchased with the aim of competing at advanced level dressage and above. He has taken a little bit longer to adjust to my aids, but he only wants to help (which can be his problem!). He is a dream to ride, and I can’t wait to get him out in 2018.”
Jessie’s accomplishments on her self trained Standardbred speak volumes to her dedication, the culmination of this was competing at The Interschool Nationals last year. “It has been a long-time dream to ride for South Australia, and to have Storm there with me made it surreal! I never actually thought it would be my little old Standardbred who earnt me my first Team South Australia jacket, and of course that state rug!” And their accomplishments certainly won’t stop there. Jessie’s goal for Storm in 2018 is to compete at elementary level. Kiwi on the other hand she will be campaining Kiwi in Newcomers. Outside of horses Jessie has been accepted into a Bachelor of Nursing, with the goal of specialising in paediatrics.
Jessie’s advice to other riders?
“Being an equestrian has shown me that hard work, patience and dedication does pay off, even if you can’t see it at the time. You can teach an old horse new tricks, it just takes time!Hard work, patience and dedication does pay off, even if you can’t see it at the time Click To Tweet
You can’t change what’s happened, but you can change how you respond to it. This can be applied to anything to do with riding or life. I know I can’t change what happened to me, but I can change how I reacted to it, and sitting at home feeling sorry for myself wasn’t way to deal with it.”
Want to follow Jessie Smith, Storm and Kiwi as their journey continues? Find them at:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thestandiewhocan/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thestandiewhocan/
I met Mathilde via the Equestrian Bloggers networking group on Facebook and was instantly captivated by her striking Icelandic paint gelding, Baldur with his blue eyes. My fascination only grew when I learned that in addition to competing in show jumping they also attend gaited competitions and train tackless! I knew that Mathilde was someone I wanted to learn more about.
Mathilde Kvernland of Mathilde and Baldur (passionforhorse.com) lives in Hamar, Norway. In between writing, riding and photography, she is busy studying a Bachelor of 3D Animation. After successfully building a Norwegian blog and winning blogger of the year in 2016, Mathilde decided to make the leap into blogging in English. She told me that, ” The platform that most Norwegian horse bloggers use is fairly small and not very user-friendly, so switching to my own website with a new blogging platform was almost a relief. I do of course miss the Norwegian “atmosphere” there, but I am very happy about how much my blog has developed until now!”
How did you find yourself in the world of horses?
I have always been in love with horses, I think I have loved them since birth. I started off as a little girl with big dreams, mostly just drawing bad pictures of horses before I was allowed to start taking lessons. Of course the movie “Spirit” really made the horse lover bloom. I was allowed to start taking classes in 2008, and I was so happy. In 2009 I started leasing horses. And from that year up to 2015, I had leased about 10-15 different horses. From Norwegian Fjord Horses, Warmblooded Trotters and street mixes (as we call mixed breeds in Norway). And in 2015 I met Baldur, the horse of my life.
What is it that you love about horses and riding?
The one thing I love the most in horses is that I get this feeling of freedom. Like I can do anything and be anyone. No one is stopping me and I can breathe, be relaxed. I have a silent partner who comes when I call and hugs me when I am feeling down. It’s like having a best friend and a soulmate in one. He doesn’t care what I look like and I feel like I can be myself with him.
Tell us about Baldur and how he came into your life?
It all started when I was leasing another Icelandic horse, and I wanted to buy him. So I asked around for boarding, and everything was way over my budget (I wasn’t even allowed to buy a horse at this point, but I still looked). So I came across a boarder and I talked a bit with her. Her barn was full, but she asked me if I wanted to try out her horse for lease, at least for the time being. So I agreed to meet the horse, and this horse was Baldur. My first impression of him was that he was the most adorable little horse I had seen in my entire life. So how could I ever say no? This was in January 12, 2015, the first time I laid eyes on my heart horse.
I understand that you train Baldur’s native gaits including tölt, what does this entail?
Working tölt can seem very similar to dressage, at least the way I work him. But in tölt, you want the horse to have a high headseat and to use their hind ends. So that is what we are working on in tölt, to raise his front and lower his back end, and collect all the power in the front again. It isn’t as easy to explain really, it’s something that has to be experienced!
Can you tell us about the process of training Baldur to be ridden tackless?
The reason we started riding tackless was actually because me and Baldur had quite a struggle in the start. We actually had four months where he would refuse to trot, and instead he would tölt or bolt. It was a bit terrifying and very frustrating for both of us! So as a last resort, I took off all his tack, jumped on tackless (this was in a round pen), and he started trotting like it was the only thing he knew. So I took it from there, learnt to cooperate with Baldur, and we gradually added more tack. Now, we trot with no problem! And we ride tackless for fun and variation (and for me to learn to ride with my seat and keep balanced)!
What are your goals with Baldur and in riding more generally?
My goals with Baldur are to just keep getting better at the tölt, and of course have a good time doing it. I also wish to become even better at riding tackless and improve our communication!
What advice would you have for other riders?
My best advise is to be patient and never rush anything. I have learned so much about patience since I first met Baldur. He never accepted me rushing things, so I learned the hard way to take my time and not get frustrated if things didn’t work out. And of course, love your horse!
Baldur has recently been diagnosed with benign cancer for which Mathilde is still seeking advice regarding treatment options. We are sending our love across the globe and wishing Baldur a speedy recovery when he does undergo treatment.