As a rider, it can be easy to get caught up in idolizing riders with impeccable records, but it is less common to make a point of recognizing their horsemanship. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of riders across the globe who have quality horsemanship to go with their impressive resumes. Jessica Sutcliffe is a lawyer, writer, blogger, and equestrian who has big dreams for her future. Though she is just beginning her jumping career, eventually she would like to be able to compete in the Amateur Owner classes and maybe even the Performance Hunters with her new horse, Monte. Presently she is aiming at competing in the in low Amateur hunter classes and Adult Equitation classes. Her long-term goals include improving my riding to the fullest, being able to go pro, and riding in Grand Prix classes (we love her ambition). Jessica proves that there is more to a rider than their record. Horsemanship, consideration of others, and being grounded in the fundamentals are key aspects of being a good rider inside and outside of the show ring.
When it comes to the equestrian community, there are an abundance of riders that inspire each other to chase dreams. When asked which riders inspired her, it was impossible for Jessica to pick just one, McLain Ward, Scott Stewart, John French, and Karen O’Connor were among the top mentions. It’s no wonder it’s difficult to choose, as each rider has a number of riding and personal accolades to their name to make them the creators of inspiration among the next generation of equestrian riders.
When asked why these riders stood out to her personally, it became obvious why it was so difficult to pick just one. “McLain Ward is one of the best of the best. Not only is he an amazing rider, but he is an amazing horseman. He knows how to make a Grand Prix look beautiful and “easy.” His equitation is always fantastic, and he knows how to balance speed and technicality. He is also an incredible horseman, not just for how he treats his horses, but for how he treats his fans. I love that he has been photographed giving away his ribbons to young fans of his. I think that is hugely inspirational and a true testament to his character.
Karen O’Connor is someone I looked up to from a young age because she was (and is) a big name, but especially when I was young and watching the Olympics. She was someone I aspired to be like when I was a rider growing up, and who can forget about the adorable Teddy? Scott Stewart inspires me because my trainer worked for him for many years, and she has done wonders for my riding. My trainer inspires me, and I know many of the lessons she’s learned and imparts on me she learned from him when she worked for him. Finally, John French is one of the biggest names in hunter riding, which is my preferred discipline. I look up to him and aspire to be as great a rider as he is one day, especially in the hunter world.”
These riders inspire on a daily basis, but to Jessica they’re more than riders with fantastic records and lots of talent. What matters to Jessica the most is the horsemanship these riders display in every ride and every moment around their horses. “They not only are great riders that have proven themselves time and again in the ring, but they’ve also proven themselves outside of the ring. They treat their horses well, and they are great to their fans, which I think is hugely important, especially in a sport that can have a lot of petty drama sometimes. I also think that all of these riders never take any of their achievements or blessings for granted. They are able to compete on some of the biggest “stages” worldwide, and they take it in stride and not for granted.” In all their actions, these riders display humility, gratitude, and good horsemanship; those qualities are what set them apart from the average upper level ride and cause them to inspire Jessica to be the best rider and horsewoman she can be.