At the age of seven, Jamie Fletcher has already decided what she wants to do with her life – ride horses.
Although she has only been riding for about 16 months, Jamie has already competed in one dressage and two jumping competitions. She also placed third in the USDF Intro A category of the FEI World Dressage Challenge on October 21 at the San Antonio Stables, Santa Cruz.
Jamie fell in love with the animals at age four when she rode a pony while on vacation in England. That love was solidified in June last year during a family vacation in Ocala, Florida.
Jamie’s mother, Inga Fletcher told Newsday Kids the family was driving around Ocala when they saw a notice for a horseback riding camp. She said Jamie had always loved horses so she and her husband could not turn down the opportunity for their daughters to learn. Everyday for three months Jamie and her sister Justynne, nine, learned the different parts of the horse, how to groom and take care of them, the different tools used to do so, and how to ride.
Jamie explained that, before riding, the horse has to be groomed so the saddle pad does not rub on the fur and make the horse uncomfortable. Then the tail is brushed and the hooves cleaned because there is a sensitive part of the hoof that would hurt the horse if a stone gets into it.
By the time the family returned to Trinidad, both girls were hooked and their parents had to find a coach, which they did at San Antonio Stables.
Jamie said her favourite part of riding was controlling the big but gentle animals. She said she liked to bathe and feed the horses, trot without stirrups, trail riding and riding bareback (without a saddle).
Her love for the sport and the animals is such that even broken bones and pain does not deter her. “I fell off horses many times. I fell off during a jump and onto a rock and I cried but I still went back. I don’t care if I fall. I just go back on.”
Justynne also rides and has taken part in two dressage and two jumping competitions.
She recently won the USDF Intro A category in the FEI World Dressage Challenge in which Jamie placed third.
Jamie said she plans to own a horse and go into business with her sister as horse farm owners.
They plan to give lessons and board horses. She said they included boarding so they would have enough money to care for all the horses and pay for vet fees.
However, she said while she raced her sister, she did not like professional racing because jockeys beat their horses too much.
Inga said, “Everything is a financial investment. We have to plan from now because we have realised that it’s not a fad. They both are very much into horses. They have already decided they want a farm. They have already planned how many stables and horses they are going to start with. We have looked at universities and they are going to major in business and minor in equestrian studies.”
She added that horseback riding taught her daughters discipline and responsibility as they not only ride but also prepared and took care of the animals.
“They are a lot more responsible. They have to clean and care for their gear and make sure they have everything when they are going riding. They are more conscientious and much more sensitive. They have learned to be in tune with the animal when they are riding so they have also become more empathetic and understanding towards others.”
In addition to riding, both girls dance, play the piano, swim, and photography.