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Little Rock, Arkansas native Jacob Fletcher is a rising star in the eventing world. Jacob and his horse Falcon Splash were Silver Medalists, both individually and team, at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in 2011 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. This year, his fourth year in the Junior Division, he placed 7th in the NAJYRC competition. Jacob is a member of Area V Young Riders and Region 9 Dressage.
Jacob brought his current eventing horse, The Prof (a.k.a.,Theo) to the Mid-South Dressage Academy show to “up our game in that phase,” he said. “This is a great venue for that experience!” Jacob and Theo are moving up to the Advanced Division this winter season, which starts in January in Ocala, FL. He’ll be going to Tallahassee and Chattahoochie Hills, among others. “My goal is to get to the Bromont CCI*** in June. I’m polishing my dressage and show jumping this fall.” His alternative plan is to go to the CCI*** at Rebecca Farm in July. (For information, visit http://www.rebeccafarm.org/Home)
Jacob’s career with horses started innocently enough. “At age 5, I just wanted some riding lessons. So my parents got me some lessons, expecting I would lose interest. But I didn’t. I kept going. The first year I did local hunter shows on a school horse.”
“Then I got lessons with a local trainer, who happened to do eventing,” he recounted. That would be Sarah Bradley of Maumelle Equestrian Center in North Little Rock, AR. It wasn’t long before he was eventing at Jubilee Horse Trials in North Little Rock on “Boomer,” a 12.2h Shetland pony. He moved up to a 14.2h pony, Gemini Twin Blasters, on whom he competed at Training Level. Then he got Mighty Might from Debbie Crowley, an off-the-track Thoroughbred who had previously won the Radnor CCI**. This horse helped him become really successful at Training Level, but, sadly, after owning the horse for only one year, he died from Potomac Horse Fever. After that, he got Falcon Splash from Phillip Dutton.
He rode in a clinic with David O’Connor and, afterwards, was invited to the O’Connor’s Equestrian center in Ocala, Florida to work with him. David recommended Mike Huber, who was the Young Riders coach. So in 2008, Jacob started training with Mike Huber and is currently training with him. Jacob rode in his first “1 Star” on Splash in 2009; and in 2010 rode Splash in a “2 Star” at Red Hills, where he placed fifth. In 2010 he was fifth individually at Young Riders and the team won the Bronze medal. In 2011 he did another “2 Star” on Splash and won Individual and Team Silver on Splash at NAJYRC. After that, he retired Splash from upper level competition.
Jacob is now at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR and trains with Cynthia Sera Wilson, a USDF L Judge, USDF silver and bronze medalist, and dressage trainer. “He is the highest ranked eventer in Arkansas,” Cynthia bragged on Jacob. “He’s smart, talented, and a pleasure to work with.”
Jacob is a finance major at the U of A, which he chose because “They have a study abroad program there,” he explained. He wants to eventually go to Oxford or Cambridge to ride and train horses. “I am a fan of William Fox Pitt and Piggy French,” he said.
Jacob also has the opportunity to travel to Europe on horse buying trips. Mike took him to England with agent Suzy Pragnall, who can connect him with horses and trainers. That’s where he picked up The Prof from Charlotte Bathe. The Prof had won Burghley in 1994. Since buying the horse, he rode one Training Level event, placing 4th, two Preliminary events, placing second in both, and this past winter moved up to Intermediate Level. This year he was 7th individually at Young Riders.
This fall, Mike helped him find some horses in Ireland, where he bought Fly Away Ferro. “He’s unbelievably scopey and a better mover than Theo,” Jacob said. “I’m thrilled to bring along such a nice horse. He won the young event class for 4- and 5-year olds in Ireland. He has done one Novice event, which he won.”
Watch the eventing news for Jacob’s progress early next year. It may turn out to be an “I knew him when…” situation.
Read more about Jacob and his blog about the Area V Selection Trials at: http://useventing.com/news/area-v-selection-trials and at Horse Nation: http://www.horsenation.com/2012/05/31/team-fleeceworks-jacob-fletcher/
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