Horseback riding is hard enough for most to do in and of itself. Beyond the basics of just riding this gracious animal, training it to compete in the harshest of conditions is a challenge that takes equal parts skill, patience and tenacity. This is what senior Madi Lerner has done since she was just a little girl.
“Eventing,” basically the equivalent of an equestrian triathlon, encompasses both physical and mental components that must be undertaken by both horse and rider. There are three phases associated with eventing: dressage, endurance and show jumping. Lerner has trained her horse, Jasper, since 2008 and has loved every moment of her time as an equestrian trainer and rider.
“I started riding because my mom wouldn’t get me a puppy or kitten for my seventh birthday, and instead got me riding lessons,” Lerner said. “From the first lesson, I was so glad that she didn’t get me the puppy or kitten because I immediately fell in love with riding.”
“Horseback riding makes me feel fulfilled. I feel like I can accomplish anything because it’s the part of my life that makes me feel whole, like I have a purpose,” Lerner continued.
Competitions last three days, with the first being dressage. This is followed by endurance and, lastly, show jumping. Dressage is scored based on the intricate movements that the animal makes in harmony with its trainer. Optimally the animal performs required tasks of its own accord, so as to not disobey the trainer.
Lerner competed in the national championships held at Woodside Horse Park in Redwood City, California. There she, along with her companion athlete Jasper, secured the win. However, after this event, she sustained a concussion and nerve damage when she was bucked off her horse during a training session. While she qualified for the championships again this year and the following, she is unable to attend this year’s event because protocol mandates that injuries of her kind must keep riders out of competition for a whole year.
“I knew that my injury was just a small part of my life, and that I could grow and move on from it. Also, I knew that Jasper counted on me to come back and to prove that we can compete against that we will stay a strong team and come back better than ever,” Lerner noted.
She hopes to continue to compete in equestrian events in the future, and hopes to continue fostering the best relationship possible with Jasper, as well as all other horses Lerner competes with.