Competition horse rider barrel-races to success

Junior Jordan Thompson has been competing since June in barrel racing, pole bending, quad rangle, hurry scurry and so much more at the Gymkhana events in Salinas.

Riding horses is not a sport offered by schools, but it takes a lot of responsibility and passion to take care of a living animal. Thompson explains that horses need to be taken care of and loved daily, just like house pets. Feeding, brushing, baths and exercise are some examples of responsibilities needed to be done.

“It definitely makes me take a lot of things into consideration, like time management,” Thompson says.

Managing time is a big responsibility Thompson has needed to learn throughout her high school career. Not only does Thompson have to balance her time, but also her patience with her horse.

“You spend time with them, give them enough love, enough horse cookies,” Thompson says. “Having a bond between them is what I find special about a horse.”

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Trainer Rhena Agostini, the vice president of the California Gymkhana Association District 8 Tri-county Riders, helps students like Thompson know the importance of caretaking and control. Agostini knows that school always comes first, but also encourages Thompson to balance it out with her horse riding and care.

“You really have to have the love and passion for them,” Agostini adds.

Thompson has found that hard work pays off if you are passionate towards the animals.

“Practice makes perfect,” Agostini advises about the discipline and labor put into this interest.

Agostini has had a passion for horses ever since she was a kid, and her parents encouraged her passion to let her continue.

Thompson has not grown up with horses, but she has always had a passion for them. She started competing in June this year. At the Gymkhana on Oct. 22, Thompson competed in six events with her horse, Miss America.

“It’s not something you can take lightly,” Agostini remarks.

Agostini isn’t the only mentor in Thompson’s life to support her.

Mary Lee, Thompson’s mother, encourages her daughter to also strive for success and keep doing what she loves the most.

“She’s independent herself so it’s not hard to push her to do these things,” Thompson’s mother says. “She wants the best results for herself.”

This sport may be a challenge for Thompson to learn how to communicate and take care of a horse, but the hard work and passion she puts into it makes it easier.

-Claire Taagen