Jenna Kelley

I am 40 years young and most people think I am some kind of … well freak, I guess you’d say because my life is so hectic.

I am a PA at a medical research institute in Melbourne. In my ‘after hours’ life, I am a CFA (Country Fire Authority) Volunteer of eight years (I was heavily involved in Black Saturday), I co drive in rally cars on dirt and tarmac (for 11 years) and I have self published a novel. I teach at three local pony clubs (Level 1 PC coach for 13 years) and I am secretary of the State PCAV Panel and I ride and compete!

Photo credit - John Doutch Photographix

I have been riding since I was five but never really did Pony Club or competed but about eight years ago I purchased ‘Mawson’ a grade 2 thoroughbred Eventer who I planned to do some dressage competitions on. I had Mawson for six months and in 2000, I applied to work in Antarctica for 6 months at Scott Base and was successful so my equine partnership was placed on hold. When I returned to Australia, I worked with Mawson doing some Monty Roberts ground work, but as soon as I mounted it was a constant fight of bucking, rearing, and spinning and I was soon terrified of him. I had various people try to help and check him out but a while later I found out after a vet check that he had a heart murmur and I retired with a loving family in Shepparton. However, he frightened me so badly that I didn't ride for six years.

During my time of non-riding I began to coach at pony club so I could stay involved and keep learning but I really missed riding and then about two years ago I decided to get back into it. I was recommended to have lessons with Sue Leslie and after gaining confidence, I put the word out via our pony club asking if anyone had a horse they would like taken to Adult Riders. As much as I would love my own horse again I simply cannot afford one, but I was fortunate enough to try out several lovely horses and found one that I felt suited my confidence levels.

Billy is a black/brown TB who is 19 this year. He has a heart of gold. He never puts a foot wrong and despite not being my horse, he gallops up the paddock when he hears my car and neighs when I come to ride him! I absolutely adore him. His owner is 16 and is a very conscientious student at school who also works on weekends, so I keep him educated and fit for her so that when she wants to compete at Grade 3 PCAV events, she can just get on him. It’s a perfect arrangement.

I had never ridden cross country before until I rode Billy. When I was graded for my HRCAV events I had to show jump a Level 4 fence at maximum height, 60cm. I did it, but I tell you I spent the next ten minutes sitting on the ground trying not to throw up from nerves!

My very first HT competition was the Melton HT in 2011. A week prior, I was blessed to be accepted into an cross country clinic with Megan Jones. I can’t tell you how much confidence Megan gave me for that first competition. When the day came it poured with rain and I was absolutely terrified. I went round the cross country and came in 1:30 seconds over time with one stop as I was not going forward enough and choking poor Billy, who just wanted to get over the fences.

My second competition was TTT HT in 2011 and again I was nervous but I decided that I had to trust Billy and we went flying around the course. It felt amazing! He knew exactly what to do and of course at the last fence I was so excited we’d got all the way around that I stopped riding and lost my leg to hand connection and so he stopped! LOL. Lesson learned. I was super happy though and went on to do some more training with Megan and a three day clinic with Paul Tapner as well! Talk about lucky!

My third competition was Mansfield Horse Trials and we got our first ribbon after finishing eighth. I am sure the entire world heard my excited screams and the car horn honking as I got the phone call from my team-mates on the way home!

I entered TTT HT 2012 and this year I also sought the assistance of a Sports Performance Coach, Nicole Stewart. We have been working on confidence and goal setting and I visualised the outcome that I wanted at TTT and was hoping for a top ten placing. TTT events are really competitive and tough to place in. I could not believe it when I was placed sixth with a ribbon. It was a very emotional moment and the event was the one where I truly felt Billy and I had become a true partnership and team.

I struggle financially to be able to afford to have regular, progressive lessons with a coach on a one on one basis. My goals for this year are to continue working with my equine sports life coach and gain a place on the Melbourne Eventing Team. I aim to be in grade 3 (HRCAV) by March 2013 and placing successfully in grade 4 by December 2012 (This has started to happen!).

This year I applied for sponsorship from Fiona Dearing at Remote Coach and was one of the two lucky riders to be accepted. This sponsorship has greatly assisted me with understanding what I am doing and gaining the ‘feel’ of my horse again. I really feel I am making leaps and bounds with this type of support and I am starting to see results.

You’ll have to read my blogs to see if the results can keep improving!