Fifteen-year-old Abigail Gordon, Charlotte, NC, had a breakout moment when she took the top spot in the 2021 THIS National Children’s Medal Finals on her horse Heartbeat Z.
“My sister, who is three years older than me, started taking pony lessons [as a kid] and I happened to follow in her footsteps. We started locally, then we started showing our ponies at a higher level,” says Gordon. “We’d go to Devon, we’d go to indoors, and then we moved up to the horses. We did the hunters for quite a bit [and] then my sister decided that she wanted to do the jumpers and the equitation, and so did I. We moved to Ashland Farms to get that equitation experience, and they are great.”
This season at WEF, Gordon is competing in the “Big Eq” classes, which include the APSCA Maclay, the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, and the WIHS Equitation. She is also showing in the Low Junior Jumpers and Small Junior Hunters.
“My equitation horse, Heartbeat Z, really gave me the confidence going into the Big Eq, and that’s when I really started to love the equitation,” says Gordon. “He’s such a great horse and he’s very trusting. Toy Soldier, or ‘Buzz,’ is the horse I do the Low Junior Jumpers on. I see so much potential in the future for us together and I’m really excited. He always motivates me and I’m looking forward to showing him more. The third horse I show is High Society, or ‘Blue,’ and my sister got him a few years back. She’s in college now, so I started showing him this WEF—I don’t usually do the hunters, so I’ve been having a lot of fun. He always tries his best and he jumps so well.”
While Gordon enjoys competing in all three rings, she says that the equitation not only helps her improve her riding skills, but it also teaches her important life skills.
“Slowing everything down in the equitation really gets you into the right mindset. You have to know the technicalities like bending lines and tests, and it takes a lot of discipline and responsibility to know your course, the right strides, your order of go—I think it sets you up for things even in normal life,” she says. “It makes you really independent. What I like about the THIS Medal is that there’s always room to move up after the first round—you have to lay down two consistent rounds.”
As Gordon recalls, everything about the environment and the experience of winning the THIS National Children’s Medal Final was memorable. After the first round, Gordon sat in sixth but moved up to the top spot after the test.
“I thought it was a great experience: All my trainers were there, my friends were there, and we were all very supportive of each other,” says Gordon. “We all had so much fun, and it was almost like we were working as a team, even though we were competing against each other. No matter how the results ended up, we were all really happy for each other.”
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