EQUESTRIAN: Why jumping queen Jessica has to learn the hard way
GETTING all of your homework handed in on time can be a challenge for most 17-year-olds – and most 17-year-olds aren’t busy maintaining a blossoming career as one of the country’s top young showjumpers.
Wiltshire showjumping sensation Jessica Mendoza virtually lived out of suitcase last year as she met her first official season of senior competition head-first, travelling to competitions around Europe almost every weekend.
The Tockenham star was included on the British Equestrian Federation’s world class development programme at the start of the year and has gone on to underline her potential by breaking in to the country’s top 20.
Mendoza is already looking forward to dedicating the wealth of her time to competition, but for the next six months, the St Mary’s School pupil will have to continue to concentrate on hurdling a few more academic fences.
“It was my first year completely doing horses but I’ve still have school, so it has been difficult to fit it all in,” said Mendoza, who brought the curtain down on the year’s competition by finishing third in the British U23 Championship at the London International Horse Show, at Olympia just prior to Christmas.
“It has been really busy but I think that next year is going to be a lot easier when I’ve finished school.
“When I did ponies, I also did a lot of horses alongside, so the change hasn’t been too difficult.
“The main difference is that when you’re doing ponies, you’re only really going abroad about once a month, but now there’s a show on every single weekend.
“To be fair, it’s gone really well. I’ve done a lot of ranking class competitions and been placed in them and I’ve also done a few two-stars and three-stars.
“Last year, I always wanted to get in to the top 20 and to do it in my first year was great.
“I was quite far down because ponies don’t count for senior points, so it was quite a big leap.
“My life is pretty much half in the horse box.
“I’m really busy riding-wise, but I think come April or May, we’re going to have to stop going to so many competitions until I finish my exams.
“Most of the time, the horse box is where I have to do my school work.
“My mum and dad (Sarah and Paul) are always at the front of the lorry talking, but I have to try to find some silence somehow.
“When I’m at a show and I’m not jumping, I try and go back over there when I can while they stay out at a restaurant or whatever while I do some work.
“It’s just the way that I have to do it.”
Mendoza has been ear-marked as a potential Olympian for some time and says that Rio 2016 remains a long-term aim.
An established winner on the international scene, she was a member of Britian’s gold medal-winning team at the Pony European Champ-ionships 2011 and 2012 has represented her country at the Pony Nations Cup and won a clutch of titles at both the Horse of the Year Show and Olympia.
A move abroad next year could be the first major step towards the next Olympic Games for the youngster.
Mendoza said: “Being based in England makes it quite hard to travel abroad all the time, especially with horses, so when I’m finished at school I think we’re going to rent stables and a house out in Belgium.
“It’s a really good horse area and it’s right in the centre of everything.
“Then in a year or two, we might try and buy a place out there and maybe have a place back in London or something like that.
“I am a little bit restricted with school and I think that when I’m finished, it will be riding all the time.
“I’m hoping to go the Olympics but first I need to be doing things properly, at a proper professional yard abroad.
“Although this is a good yard (in Tockenham), it doesn’t have completely all the facilities that a top international yard would have.
“I definitely think that the Olympics are something that I want to do but it’s still a long way away.
“I guess we’re going to see how it goes and let it happen and if not, there’s always four years later.”
- Follow Jessica’s progress in the Gazette & Herald and at jessicamendoza.co.uk
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