This month’s Young Rider is 21-year-old Jacob Wells, from Modella in Victoria. Jacob comes from a family who have all, at one time or another, ridden. His parents actually met while they were on horseback.
However, for Jacob, something very special was ignited when he began riding at the age of six. So much so, that he has twice been named Victorian Junior Show Jumping Champion, was a member of the Victorian Young Rider Squad for eight years, represented Australia on a winning team in New Zealand, and has won the South Australian Junior Championship twice.
And his success story doesn’t end there. Jacob was recently invited by Edwina Tops-Alexander, the show jumping star who has represented Australia on numerous occasions, including three Olympics and the World Equestrian Games, to join her at her home in the Netherlands for mentoring and training.
“Edwina had discussed with my coach about me coming to ride. I was very excited when I found out I would be given the opportunity to stay with Edwina. She is an extremely talented rider,” he says.
Jacob’s success does not come without a considerable degree of effort mixed in with his natural ability. While in Australia, he regularly trains Cobra De Capello, his own Warmblood, as well as his clients’ horses – and he’s a dedicated fan of flatwork.
“I really enjoy training my horses on the flat, it’s very rewarding to feel how much they improve as they learn and get stronger. I find that when you have a well– educated horse you have more control of what they’re doing with their body, allowing you to give the horse a softer ride while maintaining the balance needed to produce a better jump,” explains Jacob.
With his original six-week stay with Edwina now extended to three months, Jacob is understandably excited about the future and has some commendable goals in mind.
“I want to keep advancing my knowledge of training so that I can bring out the best in all of the horses I ride. Long term, I would like to jump in some of the big Grand Prix competitions in Europe, and one day ride at the Olympic Games,” he says.
Behind every great rider there is inevitably a great support team, one that Jacob is quick to acknowledge: “My parents have always been very supportive. They travel with me to most of the shows, and are always interested in how the horses are going. Also my coach Michelle Strapp has been a wonderful mentor for me. We’ve been together since I was 12–years-old, and she’s helped me learn how to train horses, as well as advising me on how to run a business within the sport. Michelle’s husband Peter has also had a big impact on my career. He’s owned a few of my horses, including Cobra, my current horse. My sponsors at Trailrace Saddlery have also been a great support, keeping me equipped with the best quality gear.”
All in all, things are looking very bright for Jacob, and HorseVibes wishes him every success during his European adventure.