Sep 16, 2023

Addie Borton's AEC Adventure with Conway Lad

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
Addie Borton and her trainer Jennie Jarnstrom-Dennis. Photo by Lisa Madren

Preparing the Fast Facts for the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds always displays the true diversity of the sport of eventing. Riders from all backgrounds and ages riding horses that were wrangled up in the Wild West or born into the arms of the riders who still have them to this day come together to compete in the sport they love. One fun fact the USEA staff always enjoys looking at is the age range between competitors. This year the oldest competitor was 75 years young and the lone youngest competitor was 9 years of age. That young rider is Addison Borton.

“Addie,” as her friends know her, held her own in the highly competitive USEA Beginner Novice Junior 14 & Under Championship, finishing ninth out of 28 entries. Riding her beloved partner of two years, Gigi Geiger’s 17-year-old Connemara gelding Conway Lad, Addie and “Connor” executed beautiful, double-clear rounds in both jumping phases to finish on their dressage score of 32.5 and place within the top 10.

Addie’s love of horses has been lifelong and it is in her blood. Her great-grandfather was an equestrian and trainer at an academy in Indiana, and her mother Courtney Borton previously competed on the hunter/jumper circuit. At the tender age of 6, Addie began taking riding lessons in Colorado, but it was when her family moved to Florida and Addie was introduced to five-star rider Jennie Jarnstrom-Dennis and Class Act Farm that she became very serious about riding.

“We went to watch the Class Act Farm team compete at Three Lakes Horse Trials one weekend, and I told my parents ‘I’m going to do this!’” said Addie.

Addie Borton and Conway on their way into the Head of the Lake. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

She held to that promise. Six months later, with her great grandfather’s horse pin tucked beneath her show coat for good luck, Addie competed at her very first schooling show at the Florida Horse Park. “I know he is watching over Connor and me,” she said.

Addie and Connor placed third out of 14 in the Starter division.

Bitten by the horse show bug, Addie now spends her afternoons at the barn five days a week. During the summer months, she is at Class Act Farm each day. She loves spending time with Connor, who Jarnstrom-Dennis thought she would connect with.

“Ms. Jennie thought we would be a good match,” she said. “She was right. I talk to him a lot while competing or just hanging out. He has taught me how to sit back and ride confidently. He’s my best friend.”

The pair have had quite a successful season so far, with three top-3 finishes leading up to this year’s AEC. Addie says Connor is a lot of fun but does have his opinions about certain things.

“At away shows he can be very opinionated. Sometimes I need to convince him that certain jumps are a good idea,” she said.

Addie isn't the only future superstar in her family. Little sister Emma rides too! Photo by Lisa Madren

There’s a lot to love about Connor, but Addie’s favorite thing? How silly he can be. “We both stick our tongue out when we jump sometimes. It’s our thing; we can’t help it!”

Competing at the Kentucky Horse Park was a huge goal of Addie’s, one she calls a dream come true. She went into the championship week with one goal: to give Connor the best ride possible and hopefully, that would land her within the top 10. How fun that at the age of 9, she finished in ninth at her first ever AEC.

Addie hopes to improve her flatwork to get those impressive sub-30 dressage scores. She also hopes to return to the AEC next year, maybe competing at the Novice level. And for her big-picture goals?

Addie's favorite memory at this year's AEC was getting to take a victory gallop with Connor. USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

“When I grow up I want to be a trainer like Ms. Jennie and a veterinarian. I definitely want to keep riding and hopefully make it to Advanced one day. I think it would be fun to be able to compete with Ms. Jennie in the same four-star division.”

We can’t wait to write about you when you do, Addie.

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