Local show rider Jessica Syvertsen, 16, won eight awards at the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping Winter Hunter Series in Spruce Meadows on Sunday, but that isn’t the newsworthy accomplishment.
Jessica, a Drumheller Valley Secondary School student, has been riding for six years. After taking two years off show jumping to perfect her skills by training dressage, last summer she returned to show jumping with her talented mare Andante. One week after winning first place in a show in central Alberta, “Andy” suddenly died, leaving Jessica heartbroken and without a jumping partner.
“It was so tragic, he had developed a stomach ailment and had to be put down. It was horrible, even the vet was in tears,” said father Morgan Syvertsen. “Jessica was just crushed. It was her comeback to show jumping and the poor thing just died. They really bonded, they were a wonderful team.”
“I took it pretty hard,” said Jessica.
After a few months horseless, along came the “miracle horse” Editor. Jessica’s mother Karen placed an ad on Kijiji seeking a free horse to help her out, and Jessica was offered a highly trained 13 year old German Oldenberg warmblood gelding, easily worth $20,000. “Eddie” had been shipped to Canada from Germany in 2004, and the owners had recently lost their seven year old son to cancer and wanted out of the horse business.
“Jessica has gone from the deepest despair to the highest joy,” said her father. “She’s the happiest girl in the world.”
Morgan says they didn’t bond quickly – she was still grieving over Andante.
“But yesterday with this show, she realized what a fantastic horse she has.”
“He’s pretty amazing. He is understanding and makes me ride. Eddie is really hard working, which is good because I can be lazy,” said Jessica, adding the horse may be better trained than her. "He has more buttons than I know how to push.”
In her second comeback, Jessica won three first place, three second place, and two third place ribbons at John Anderson’s equestrian facility south of Spruce Meadows on Sunday, competing against adults.
“Ever since she was three or four years old when she discovered horses, she was a horse nut,” says Morgan, adding she trains in Acme three to four times a week, where the horse is also kept.
Jessica’s coach, Jill Fuselli of Eastwood Stables in Acme, was very impressed with Eddie. She called him a “very flashy mover” and predicted Jessica and Eddie would turn heads in the southern Alberta show jumping circuit.
And they certainly have.