Five minutes with showjumper Jess Mendoza


Jess Mendoza showjumping Jess Mendoza showjumping Jess Mendoza showjumping
Jess Mendoza. Pic credit: Stefano Grasso/LGCT Jess Mendoza. Pic credit: Stefano Grasso/LGCT Jess Mendoza. Pic credit: Stefano Grasso/LGCT

We chat to 18-year-old Jessica Mendoza to find out what life is like as a professional showjumper and what advice she would give to other showjumping hopefuls

At just 18 years old Jessica Mendoza is now in the top 10 British showjumpers and the top 150 in Europe. She recently became the youngest rider to win a Longines Global Champions Tour class (in London, this August). After leaving school this Summer, she and her family moved to their new yard with superb facilities in Eindhoven Holland (the heart of European showjumping) which allows her to compete in more top shows throughout Europe.

We caught up with Jess to find out how she is getting on and what advice she would give to other showjumping hopefuls:

When did you first realise you had a talent for showjumping?

My father show jumped himself - albeit not at top level - and he is still my main trainer.  I think Mum and Dad put me on a horse when I was just 18 months, I then started competing aged three in the showing ring and very soon moved on to show jumping. It just all seemed to happen naturally and because I was so young, I guess I was fearless and it all became second nature to me from very early on.

What tips do you have for a young rider making the transition from ponies to horses?

My first advice would be to get a trainer who you 'click with' and respect. The Pony Club is a really good grounding if you haven't joined already. It is always good to get as much experience riding different types of horses and ponies, I was lucky enough to be able to start competing on horses whilst I was still 'in' ponies so the transition was gradual.  This gave me the confidence for when the time came to move on to horses full-time.

What advice would you give to any young riders wanting to follow their dream to become a successful showjumper?

Being a successful showjumper takes time (so you have to be patient) and hard work so be prepared to put in those training hours and to listen. Peter Charles, for example, has been an enormous help to me and I can't thank him enough.

It goes without saying that buying good horses and competing them is not cheap.  I was very lucky that I my parents have supported me all the way and I have had some great loyal, long term sponsors like Antares Sellier, Baileys Horsefeeds and NAF Equine Health Supplements.  That's why it's so important to behave professionally at all times - both when you are off and on the horses.

What do you look for when buying a competition horse/pony?

A showjumping horse and pony has to have an engine, the ability to jump and above all be trainable.  I think it's always important to buy a horse or pony that suits your way of riding.  The trick, I think is not to try and change their way of going. Personally,  I like a forward going horse.

Do you have a favourite horse or pony, from all those you have ridden so far?

Just two years ago - I would have said Tixylyx - the pony who brought me such a success and really helped me make my name at the top.  It was so good to see her at HOYS this year where she came second with her new rider.  She will always have a special place in my heart; but now it would have to be Spirit T because she really gives her all.  I don't know what it is about mares, but I really seem to click with them.

What else would you like to do if you weren't showjumping?

Well, my second love is art. I did art A Level and I love it because you can do your own thing and have the freedom to express yourself.  You probably won't be surprised to hear that my favourite subjects are animals, including horses but not just horses.  I love drawing and painting hares - in charcoal or water colour - for example.  You can see the wildness in their eye.

I have had such lovely comments about my art. Peter Charles was the first to reserve one of my pieces and my art teacher at school, Rebecca Spicer, was really inspirational.

To find out more about Jess visit www.jessicamendoza.co.uk, or follow her journey on Twitter @jessicaemendoza or on her Facebook page.

 

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