Trusting the process

Freshman Kaela Jones, an aspiring competitive horseback rider, highlights the importance of trust in her sport


Photo courtesy of Kaela Jones

Growing up, freshman Kaela Jones would visit her aunt’s horse every weekend. Now, Jones goes to the Portuguese Bend Riding Club everyday after school in hopes of becoming a competitive horseback rider.

“I love that horseback riding is unique, different, and gives you a chance to bond with an animal. It’s nice to have people, but sometimes it’s good to have an animal that doesn’t talk and just listens,” Jones said. 

Jones believes that trust is the most important thing between a horse and its rider. 

“On my previous horse, I fell off a lot, and it did get scary because I didn’t trust him. I would worry I would fall and break my arm. That made it hard to perform well in competitions,” Jones said. 

During her last few competitions, Jones has been using her trainer’s horse, which has “calmed her nerves and grown her confidence.” 

“I’m usually the most nervous right before I step in the ring. After I pick up the pace, I start to calm down. I feel more confident and have more trust between me and the horse. I think that’s just the best feeling,” Jones said. 

Horseback riding competitions are done in classes, which are categories of competitions. Each class contains a set of jumps, and if the rider wins every class with enough points, they can be a champion or a reserve champion. The champion is first place in the division, while the reserve champion is the runner-up. 

“My proudest moment was actually my last showcase. I had a really rough time with my previous horse. When I started going to shows with a different horse, I could feel the improvement. At my last show, I was the reserve champion, which made me so happy. It takes a lot of hard work and meeting with my trainer, so this accomplishment made me really proud,” Jones said. 

Jones has found different resources that help her balance riding practices with schoolwork. 

“Between independent PE and my parents being extremely motivating, I have never had a problem balancing school and [horseback] riding. I have a really good support system that has always pushed me to pursue what I wanted to do,” Jones said. 

She believes riding is a “team sport and a group effort.” Though the rider is alone in the ring and is competing to be the champion or the reserve champion, she is also competing as a whole team, which allows riders to bond with their teammates at different events. 

“Through riding, I have learned to stay grounded and support everyone,” Jones said. “It is tough staying calm sometimes. You have to learn to celebrate and congratulate someone else’s accomplishments and still be proud of your own.”