Over the past few years, Jordan Allen has become one of the most recognizable names in hunter and equitation competition across the United States. Known for her sportsmanship, hard work and determination, Allen has dedicated herself to the sport and the incredible horses behind it, earmarking herself as an inspiration for many young athletes and aspiring equestrians. Her position as a working student at Ashland Farms has played an instrumental role in her career thus far, leading her to championship titles across the nation. On October 13, 2019, Allen claimed the biggest title of her career so far aboard her horse of a lifetime, ending the day as the reserve champion of the 2019 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final.
How does it feel to be the reserve champion of 2019 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final?
It is just so exciting and it really makes me look back on the past. I think I did my first USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final when I was 11 years old. I am so big into history that I know all of the winners and who tested each year since 2000 because I watched every round I could and every test. It was really exciting to be a part of that because I have never tested for this final before, so it made it extra special to be a part of it and for it to all come together that day. It is a huge honor.
How did you prepare for the first round?
In all of my years past, I have gone pretty late so it was funny to me that I went in the top 50 this time. I actually think that it worked out in my favor. I got to watch ten go, I polished my boots and I got on and I think that was the perfect number. For the people that go late, it is so hard, you don’t really want to go back to the hotel but you don’t want to sit and watch 200 rounds so for me I think it was the perfect number to go. I was really happy.
How did it feel to maintain the lead through 200 riders?
It was surreal! To be on top of the first standby was exciting and then in the second [section] I watched most of the class and a lot of good people went. It was such a big honor to me, probably more than anything, that I held the lead throughout the first round – it really felt so good. We show so much as kids and I have so much experience in the ring but that was by far the best round I have ever had which made it really fun.
How did you get ready for your second round? Did you do anything different from the first?
We did everything completely differently for the second round! Being in that position was a lot of pressure but I have to say, I really owe it all to Ashland, especially Ken and Emily. I am so close with my trainers and it is inevitable to be nervous but their confidence in me is really what kept all the nerves down so that I could be calm and cool. The second round was intricate, it was one of the coolest rounds I have ever seen, so I practiced my plan and then every possible thing that could go wrong. I landed on the counter lead and I held it, I practiced the flying change and I practiced the simple change so that if anything went wrong I could think on a dime and change my plan. Luckily, my plan worked out and my horse was amazing.
What is your partnership like with Cassini? What do you think his best qualities were in his performances?
I could cry talking about this horse. He is my horse of a lifetime and I think I have shown some of the nicest horses in the country, but he is my horse of a lifetime. He is 15 years old and he jumped the World Equestrian Games, he is literally the mecca of equitation horses. I don’t deserve him, I don’t think anyone deserves him because he is that special. I know I keep saying it but he is owned by Ashland and I could cry every time I talk about him. I am so lucky to ride a horse like him. So many people go their entire lives without riding a horse like that, he is the nicest horse in the entire world. It meant a lot to me, more so I would say than my second place ribbon, that he was Best Equitation Horse because I truly believe that he is the best horse in the world. I know it is cliche to say but I genuinely believe he is the greatest horse to walk this earth. I wish I could say that there was one thing that he did best! I made mistakes and I wasn’t perfect but there is nothing that he could have done better.
How did you remain so calm throughout the high-pressure moments?
It goes back to my team at Ashland Farms. I cannot put into words the feeling of confidence that they give me every day, but especially yesterday. I think a rider’s confidence comes from who is at the gate with you. We would go over the course, watch a couple and adjust our plan but no matter what I knew however I came out that they were proud of me. That is what kept my nerves down. Same with my parents as well, I know they are always proud of me. Another thing that helped, for me and only me because I have the greatest horse in the world, was Cassini. He could do this with his eyes closed, so the only thing I worry about is me. He would never do anything wrong.
How did you practice the turn on the haunches?
I have to say that I have practiced it a couple of times in lessons, but it isn’t something I have done many times. He is so good with lateral movement because he is so well-schooled on the flat so it came down to the fact he is just so game for anything. If there is anything he really shined in it was the turn on the haunches.
What were Ken and Emily Smith’s final words to you before walking into the arena?
Ken always tells me ‘You got this.’ He can be hard on me in all the right ways but he always tells me ‘You got this!’
What were Ken and Emily Smith’s first words to you when they joined you for prize giving?
We went straight to loving on Cassini and they told me that they were really proud of me. I think if anything throughout the whole day their validation was really important, not only because he is their horse but I owe them everything. Years ago I never would have thought I would make it back in a final and this year has really been the greatest in my life. I owe it all them. Ken and Emily have done everything possible to set this up for me, in addition to the rest of the Ashland team. They prepared me the best for this both mentally and physically, and they have me the most well-mounted that anyone could be. They are the reason for everything, so I feel very lucky for them.
What is one piece of training advice that you carried with you throughout the courses?
Without a doubt, the whole time I had to think to slow my mind down. Especially being in a high-pressure situation like that, it gets hard to be on top of things without rushing. I have shown a lot throughout the past couple of years and I would say the hunters have helped me a lot with that because everything is so slow and methodical and you can really take your time. I would say the most important thing Ken told me was not to rush and to take my time for the test.
Is there anything you would have changed about your rides yesterday? If so, what?
I think I can always do better. I thought in the second round, I would have liked to be a little more brilliant. Cassini was incredible and I thought I answered all of the test but I thought my simple changes could have been done a little bit quicker and my sitting trot could have been a little tighter.
What are your plans moving forward?
I am back at school now but I think I will lesson this weekend. Some of the horses stayed in Harrisburg and some went to Capital Challenge to layover before Washington so I am not sure where I will go next. I am a working student so I go where I am needed. I am tempted to go to Harrisburg to help and watch because the behind the scenes stuff is just as important to me as the riding. Next weekend I plan on doing the Washington, I have a couple of good hunters I am excited about. I am not exactly sure who I will ride in the equitation there but I definitely plan on doing that. I am also very excited for the Maclay Finals at the National Horse Show!
What is one thing you want everyone to know about you following your second place finish in 2019 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final?
It is important to me that everyone knows that so many things, including Cassini and Ashland, were the reason that everything came together. I think it is very important that I am able to be a working student and spend so much time at the barn because that is why Cassini and I have the bond that we do.
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