Showjumping Star Visits SchoolInternational Showjumper Jessie Drea came to talk to pupils at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School on Wednesday. The School, which has its own riding school with around 20 horses, has many enthusiastic riders aged from 7 to 18, so Jessie received a very warm welcome.
During the presentation 20 year old Jessie explained that she comes from a family which runs a business selling horses (Rapkyns Irish Horses) so she has been riding since she was 3 years old. Following a brief video of Jessie show jumping at Hickstead, pupils were invited to ask her questions. There was a wide range of questions and pupils learned a great deal about life as an international show jumper.
To be able to compete at the highest level, Jessie needs a number of horses that are at different stages of training. She has 8 horses that she is currently training and will use in competitions. In order to keep herself and the horses at the right level of fitness and expertise, she rides each horse for about an hour a day which means she is riding between 6-8 hours a day. During the summer she has shows around 3 days a week.
Jessie explained to pupils that some of the most important things to look for when choosing a horse for show jumping are temperament, talent and health. It also helps if a horse is good at dressage as well as jumping as it is important that they can navigate competently round the ring. The highest Jessie has jumped whilst show jumping is 2.07m.
Jessie stressed how important it is to have goals and her goal this year is to go to the European Championships. She still receives training from her father and Jessie herself trains less experienced riders.
Pupils asked whether Jessie had ever fallen off a horse and she replied that she falls off all the time and has broken her collar bone twice. The most embarrassing thing is when she falls off whilst in the ring at a major competition. She said the best thing was to get back on a horse again and move on.
Irini Economou, Stable Manager at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School commented “The children really enjoyed listening to Jessie explaining what is involved in being a top class show jumper. They also loved hearing about her early experiences with horses including getting her first pony (a Shetland) when she was 4 years old. The talk has inspired them to aim high but they also know that they will have to work very hard if they want to follow Jessie and become an international show jumper.”