By Jenaya Olsen
My name is Jenaya Olsen, and I am thirteen years old. I started riding three and a half years ago, but have been around horses my entire life. My mom grew up loving horses, and would ride them whenever she got the chance. So, when she had me, she always wanted me to ride. We lived on a farm in Switzerland for the first seven years of my life, before we moved to Florida. When I was little, my mom bought me a small Shetland pony named Gismo, hoping I would fall in love with the pony and decide to ride. But, I did not find the pony interesting! I would only groom him, maybe, once in a month. So, my mom would use him for little children and trained him to drive. We would drive him a lot, and attach a sled to the back of the cart in the winter.
When we moved to Florida, my mom imported a horse named Red Diamond, but later sold him and imported a new horse, one that would have a huge influence on my interest in riding. Achieving my USDF Gold Medal all started because of this one horse, Welcome. She is a big black mare that my mom imported four years ago. Welcome is a little bit crazy and hates kisses, but, in her heart, she is such a kind and gentle sweetheart. I fell in love with her when my mom took me to see her in quarantine, after she got imported. She laid down, let me go up to her and pet her, and I gave her carrots. Then I said, “Mom, I want to ride.”
When Welcome settled in, I got to hop on her a few times and just walked. Welcome seemed to enjoy it, and then, my mom got a lesson horse that I could show and train with. Lovie was a cute little paint mare, the kindest horse that tolerated so much.
I took lessons with my mom, Nicole Olsen, and went to Ocala to train with Franziska Seidl. I went to Ocala every summer, for a few weeks, to train, and in the winter too, for a few days. My first summer in Ocala, I met Sigalia, Franziska’s horse, whom she has owned since he was a youngster. She trained him to be such an amazing Grand Prix horse. Sigalia has such a golden personality, just the funniest horse you’ve ever met. Franziska let me sit on him and she got him to piaffe from the ground, which I thought was so much fun. I have learned so much in the past three and a half years, from both Franziska and my mom. I have also learned so much from the horses I have been lucky enough to ride, especially Welcome.
I asked Franziska if I could ride Sigalia in a Grand Prix, so I could be one of the youngest competitors to get my USDF Gold Medal. Then, we started to work hard together on my seat and I had to learn the movements, since Sigalia was a professional at his part of the job. When I was home, I would train on Welcome, with my mom. When I got to go to Ocala, I always
watched how Franziska rode on Sigalia, and tried my best to imitate her. Then, in June, we tried the test for the first time, and Sigalia carried me through that test like he does this every day, in his sleep.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds and what else I can learn. Every single horse I have had the privilege to ride teaches me something different. I could never have done this without Sigalia and Welcome, Franziska, or my mom. I know that, and feel like the luckiest person!