We are proud to kick off our month of inspirational rider profiles with Jessica Rhinelander, an International Dressage Rider whose journey is nothing short of the makings of a Disney movie. From the rugged shores of Newfoundland to the glamorous barns of Wellington, this horse crazy girl has dealt with both heartbreak and triumphs with the strength and grace of a modern day heroine.
Name: Jessica Rhinelander
Home Base: Wellington Florida
How it all started: At age 7 but my passion for horses started at the age of 5 when I volunteered with my mom Andrea at a local therapeutic riding facility in St. John's Newfoundland (Canada). I spent my time grooming and caring for the horses and ponies.
Recent Highlight of your Riding career: My competition highlight of the 2017 Global Dressage Festival was debuting Dimanche in the International ring for the first time. This horse I have trained myself from 5 years old. It was very rewarding in Week 8 when we achieved a second place in the CDI 1* FEI Intermediate on a score of 72.807% and another second place finish in the Intermediate 1 Freestyle scoring 74.417%.
The horse that had the most impact on your journey: I truly believe that every horse than I have had the pleasure of owning or working with has taught me something. But certainly I owe a lot to my very first pony Faro. I was 9 and Faro was a 20 year old high-spirited Anglo Arab. She wasn't able to jump but I didn't mind. I would make up my own dressage tests and spent many hours perfecting the accuracy of my arena figures. Faro taught me that there is so much more then just riding and competing. She required a lot of special care. Faro had melanomas that would ooze and need daily care, the sight would turn some adults' stomach but I didn't mind. Because of Faro I learned to love dressage but I also learned that number one I'm a true "barn girl". It's the hours caring for the horse, the attention to details and the horses' well being is always number one.
Most Challenging time in your Riding career: The most difficult time in my career was when I was transitioning from Young Riders to Professional. I had recently purchased a very talented horse to debut in my first professional season at a small tour (Prix St. George & Intermediate 1). I had very high hopes for this horse and aspirations of making my first senior National Team. Before I could even get done the centreline my horse was diagnosed with a suspensory injury. This put him out of work for a year. Unfortunately, the roller coaster ride of emotions with this horse had just started with this set back. After spending a year of rehabbing and bringing him back to work under the guidance of top vets and with the best care possible, he re-injured himself after just a handful of competitions under our belt. I again spent the time tack walking and nursing him back to health, but we just couldn't manage to keep him sound. It was a heartbreaking decision to make but what I still believe was in the best interest for him, we retired him to a lovely life living in a field. With his retirement, the true challenge was overcoming a feeling of failure, crushed hopes and dreams. What was I to do now when everything I had...blood, sweat, tears and money was in that one horse.
Most Rewarding moment: I find the most rewarding moments I have experienced have been when I'm coaching. In a lesson when a client get that "aha moment", it's the best feeling. Because I know how exciting and empowering it is to experience that feeling and I love that I can share that with others. Also more than anything I enjoy helping people achieve their goals. In 2012 my client Jody Schloss being named to the London Para-lympic Team was definitely a big highlight.
Who has inspired you?: My mother is my biggest inspiration, my sounding board and biggest cheerleader. She's been there through the highs, the lows and always guides me to make the best decisions. Holding myself to the highest ethical standards, and having compassion not just with my horses but also with my clients and business. My mom is a very strong woman, she is the hardest working person I know and has the biggest heart. Love you, Mom!
Words to Live By: "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you're doing, you will be successful.
Looking forward; where do you see yourself? My dream will always be to represent my country at the Olympics but ultimately in 5 to 10 years I hope to see myself doing what I love. Training more horses, coaching and growing my business.
Looking back; what advise would you give your younger self? When one door closes, when life throws you a curve ball and when despite all your efforts things don't work how you planned as hard as it may seem to believe,,, it isn't the end of the world. These are moments to learn from and later down the line you'll look back on these moments and be happy they have led you to where you are now.