When Jessica Wells first tried riding Bacardi she didn’t like him, but she listened to her coach’s advice and bought him anyway. Now she’s very glad she did.
Earlier this month she competed on Bacardi – a nine-year-old she calls Rummy - at the Royal Winter Fair, in Toronto.
“When I was little we’d always gone to watch but I never really thought I would be able to show there,” she said. “We placed in the top 10 in all of our over fence classes (8th, 9th and 10th). I was ecstatic. It was way more than I could have asked for.”
Two years ago, accompanied by her coach Jenn Sarsfield, she went to see horses for sale at a barn in Ontario.
“I tried three at the barn and I wanted the first one but my coach said no,” said Wells, insisting the horse was too much like Hudson, the horse she had.
“She said I wouldn’t progress on him. I found Rummy bouncy and hard to ride but she said he was the one for me.”
For about a year she questioned whether buying the horse had been the right decision, but then things started to come together and she was enjoying the rides.
Attending the Royal had been mentioned, but then Bacardi was diagnosed with ulcers and Wells was sure he would need the entire season to heal. He surprised her by recovering quickly and they began competing in August. Although they’d missed the first two major competitions of the season they did incredibly well when they did show, so she applied to take part in the Royal. The top two from the Maritimes in each division are usually accepted but she didn’t know anything for sure until she saw the entry fees charged to her credit card.
“I was never so happy to see a charge on my card,” she recalled.
Her coach, her husband, Blake Wells, and her father, Al McNutt, were all there to watch her classes and she’s thrilled with the way things went.
“As soon as it was over I wanted to do it again,” she said. “The footing is so nice it’s like riding on a cloud.
“Rummy does his job and I enjoy it. He’s still fairly young and green. At the Royal there were a lot of horses spooking but he was very brave; a little excited but not scared. He likes his job.
“I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb but I didn’t. I think I fit in because the horse did so well.”