BY KAITLYN YOURKOSKI
Jessica Smith embodies what every amateur aspires to be. She is a strong and gracious horsewoman, who has found a way to balance work-life and horses. Jessica and her young horse Haute Couture made strides in their second derby together this past weekend. She was one of 33 entries in the $5000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. All of Jessica’s hard work paid off at Blenheim Spring Series; she won The Plaid Horse High Score Amateur Rider Award.
Jessica grew up in Northern, California and was surrounded by horses her entire life. As she grew up and went to college, she took some time off from riding. When her professional career began to blossom, she did not have the time she used to for horses. But, eventually, she was drawn back to them. Jessica got back in the saddle three and a half years ago and has not looked back. In the beginning of her lease with her first horse, she was traveling four times a week. She found it difficult to balance work with her passions. Ultimately, she moved to a position at The Wonderful Company that allowed her to focus on her love for horses more.
And one may ask how does she balance everyday adult life and riding? Every morning she rides at 6:30 in the morning. As a working amateur, who pays all her bills, time at the barn is valuable. Trainer Nikki Husky commends Jessica on her willingness to help around the barn with whatever is needed. Jessica assures she is there for every appointment with the vet and makes sure she can spend valuable time working with her horse on the ground. Not only does she focus on her and her horse, but she also is a great friend and support system to everyone in the barn. She helps her trainer with catch rides, lessons, and hacking the other horses in the barn. Trainer Nikki Husky believes, “she is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever met…..she is a great role model to everyone in the barn.”
Two years ago Jessica bought Haute Couture from the Netherlands. She imported the mare back home to LA at Husky Stables. At the time her new mare was only four years old. She has brought her up through the Young Hunters and eventually started to compete in the 3’3 AOs. Now the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood is proving herself to be a winner.
Jessica has worked very hard to get Haute Couture to where she is today. She has put in countless hours building up the mare’s muscle and stamina. One to two days a week, she takes a flat lesson with a dressage trainer. During jumping days, they incorporate a lot of gymnastics work to improve the mare’s (already) great natural jump.
As Jessica continues her career with the young mare, she will be stepping up to the 3’6 AOs at her next show. And in the long-term, she hopes to ride in International Hunter Derbies and possibly play around in the equitation.
One important life lesson Jessica holds onto during every single ride is to make sure she is having fun. Riding is her way, as it is many of ours, to destress and vacation from work. She reminds herself to clear her thoughts from everything else.
We can all learn a lot of other things from Jessica. She has had much success in the ring. One accomplishment was winning her first show back after 15 years off. Jessica only had more successes to follow. When leasing an equitation horse, Freedom, after her long break, she placed in every medal final. One of her biggest accomplishments was reserve champion at Foxfield Medal Finals. Horses are drawn to her because of her soft yet effective touch as a rider. She believes that keeping a horse out in front of your leg allows them to work for you. She is a great catch rider. One of her most memorable moments as a catch rider was when she won fourth place at CPHA Foundation Medal Finals on a young jumper crossover.
The most important lesson we can learn from Jessica is, to always keep a smile on your face. No matter what the outcome is at the horse show, she always brings a positive attitude. Her trainer commends her on being willing to do whatever her trainer asks of her. She is brave and willing to go the extra mile. Her consistent work at home, at the horse shows, and on the ground proves her to be a great horsewoman. Nikki Husky would even say, “ She is the most dedicated rider that I have had in my program.” And that dedication led her to be the winner of the Plaid Horse High Scoring Amateur Award at the Blenheim Spring Series.
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