My road to success is a bit different and quite a bit longer than most. Hi, my name is Jennarose Ortmeyer. I am 24 years old and my eventing journey started three years ago in the summer of 2017. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, I moved to North Carolina in June of 2017 seeking to further my career. I was a professional in the hunter/jumper world then and I hadn’t the faintest idea of how drastically my life was about to change.
I went through a very rough move and found myself very ill for months when I first moved out here, unable to ride. After months of doctor's appointments and treatments, I was finally ready to get back in the saddle. I wound up landing a job at a breeding facility that purpose-bred upper-level event horses. I had no clue what I was getting into or the incredible journey I had ahead of me.
I had a fleet of incredible horses to ride, ranging from unbroke youngsters to a five-star schoolmaster (Rafferty’s Rule). I spent nine months doing straight dressage to start my foundation. Once competition season started in 2018 I came out swinging, winning my first Novice and qualifying for the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) that year while competing at River Glen. I had a great season with very high highs and very low lows. I took lots of babies out for their first time and continued to show in multiple divisions.
Later that year, the farm's money ran out and I sadly had to move on, losing my AEC-qualified ride. So, I pushed my goals further back, moved to Tryon, and started my own business, now as an eventer. I had never planned to restart my career in a totally different discipline, thousands of miles from anyone I know, but there I was. I had ridden a lot of green horses, had a lot of great opportunities, and continued to bust my butt, hoping one day I’d get to the upper levels. At the time, I was barely scraping by and never had a horse long enough to take me past Novice. I’d get young horses, get them going successfully at Novice, and then the owners would sell them. So, I swore 2020 would be my year!
With the help of my incredible dad, my biggest believer, I was able to buy my first serious upper level horse. Prim was all that I asked for and more. The first week of owning her, we won our Novice division at Windridge and qualified for the 2020 American Eventing Championships! We planned to run Training all spring to hopefully qualify at Training level, but our plans were set back due to COVID-19.
So, Prim and I did the only thing we could do - buckled down and spent every second training with our trainer Beth Perkins during the shutdown. Once shows opened back up we were fit and ready to go! We moved up to Training and started pushing towards our goal of qualifying at the Training level for the 2020 AEC. I’m still developing a relationship with Prim and working out the kinks, but I’m truly blessed to be on this crazy journey and am loving every minute of it!
At the very end of July at the FENCE Horse Trials, Prim and I put in a career-best score of 29.5 to put us in the lead. We ended up finishing the weekend on our dressage score to win the division and get our last-minute qualifications for Training level for the 2020 AEC. It was a devastating blow when I heard only weeks later that the AEC was canceled. I was crushed, but I did what I always manage to do when I get knocked down. I picked myself up, brushed off the dirt, and kept grinding.
It’s always been my dream to be an upper level rider, so I set my sights on my first one-star. I let Prim have some time off and now we’re coming back stronger to hopefully move up to Modified this fall! Our plan is to run Modified all next year and work towards a one-star. I’m not sure which one yet, but I will make it happen. Prim and I will continue to work hard and hopefully one day you’ll see our names in The Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Work hard, believe in yourself, and never stop trying. There's no perfect recipe to success and there’s no golden ticket to the top. No one is going to do it for you, you have to pull yourself up one little step at a time. Through hard work, honesty, and passion, you’ll make it. My journey has been long and hard, but it’s not over yet - my story is still being written. Here’s to the future and brighter days ahead! FEI competition, we’re coming for you!
The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Jessica Duffy at [email protected] to be featured.
One of my passions is continuing to be a good student, because I think no matter how old I get, there are multiple reasons learning new things inspires me. First and foremost, it helps me be a better rider and trainer, so my horses benefit. Second, it helps me be a better teacher by exposing me to different ways to have a relationship with a horse or a student.
This month we’re going to begin a three-part series on how to create positive riding experiences by making sure the words you say to yourself and the thoughts you think to yourself are positive. Referred to as self-talk, internal dialogue, or brain babble; the words you say to yourself can have a huge impact on your performance. In fact, your thoughts and voice are actually considered behaviors, and just like how positive physical behaviors (i.e. a balanced transition) can create success, your verbal behaviors can also accomplish the very same thing. So let's spend the next few months talking about how to talk to yourself!
Being spontaneous has paid off for Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy. “I bought him on a Wednesday and showed him on a Thursday,” Keane recalls about his first event with his Irish Sport Horse gelding, then 9 years old, at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) in September 2016. “I owned him for part of a day, and the next morning I showed up at a CCI and jogged him up for a two-star, and we went clean and clean and clean.”
THANK YOU to everyone who has already entered the USEF/USEA Recognized CDCTA Spring Horse Trials scheduled for Sunday, April 9 in Berryville, VA. We will continue to take late entries through Friday, March 24 using USEA’s Xentry system. If you still want to come compete, please enter! The late fee has been waived through Friday, March 24.