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Holly Jacks-Smither

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Road to Rebecca, Presented by Bieman de Haas: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

We hope you have enjoyed following along with Bieman de Haas sponsored rider Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration as they competed in the CCI3* at The Event at Rebecca Farm, as well as sisters Ella and Eva Marquis, who represented Canada at NAJYRC. Don't miss their final blog tomorrow! Read all of their blogs here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Eventing — there are many highs and lows but there is nothing else I would rather do and no other people I would rather share the journey with Ella and Eva Marquis at NAJYRC. Eva was so brave to be the first rider out on course but took an unlucky tumble at fence 7. Thankfully she was ok but the emotions ran high.

Upon reflection Eva remarked: “Lurch felt amazing throughout the warmup. We left the start box and he attacked the course. We were on our favourite phase! He took the first six jumps effortlessly.

“Then at jump 7A — a deep ditch and brush — we got a big jump in, and the four strides to the B element turned into three and a half. We couldn’t quite recover and down we went. Not the outcome I was hoping for or expecting as we have never had a fall together. But we were both OK, which is what matters most. We will be back to fight another day!”

The pressure was on for the rest of the team. We had lost a rider and there was no margin for error! Ella commented: “I was feeling extremely nervous before my cross country round. I saw Lurch coming back to the stables early and only then found out that they had a fall. I realized I simply had to stay on and do my best to make time for the team.

“When I left the start box Polly was confident and strong. I knew she wasn’t going to let me down as long as I did my job and told her where and how she had to go. She was amazing over the entire course, and we came in with no penalties and under the time allowed. I was excited and relieved! Being part of a team really sunk in when we got to the vet box and Polly was surrounded by people to cool her off. She loved it!”

I was so proud of Eva for jumping in to help her teammates all afternoon, and soon the tears of sadness turned into tears of joy when all three girls came in adding no jumping or time to the team score, putting them in silver position.

As for my ride, Morris skipped around the CCI3* course and made it feel easy. He cooled out well and I was so excited to show jump the next day, but unfortunately he tripped while jogging up in the barns, sprung a shoe and landed on a knee. Just when your thought that cross country was the toughest part …

We tried to make him feel 100 percent again, but there was a lot of bruising and I was unable to continue in the competition. I am thankful that he will be OK and ready to go and fight another day.

Teammate Chloe Duffy and Oro Veradero busting out of the saloon on the way to a double clear cross country round. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Ella Marquis on Meadowbrook’s Pollyanna tackles one of the multiple water complexes on her way to a clear round inside the time. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Tosca Holmes-Smith and Fiat leap into the first water complex on their way to a clear round inside the time. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Polly simply loved all the attention in the box at the end of cross country and wasn’t shy about expressing it! From left, Jessica Phoenix, Ryan Duffy, Holly Jacks-Smither and Eva Marquis. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Road to Rebecca, Presented by Bieman de Haas: Zen Time in the Mountains

We're excited to follow along with Bieman de Haas sponsored rider Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration as they compete in the CCI3* at The Event at Rebecca Farm. Joining her on this adventure are sisters Ella and Eva Marquis, who are representing Canada at NAJYRC. Read all of their blogs here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

After all of team Canada and I passed the jog, it was on to dressage Thursday and Friday. Canada drew first lot and would have to trail blaze throughout the competition. Chef d’Equipe Penny Rowland had to strategize on rider order and ultimately chose Eva Marquis to lead off our team. She would be the first rider in the ring. No pressure for a 14-year-old!

At first she was quite nervous about the situation but upon reflection was heard to say “you guys will be all stressed and under pressure and I’ll be just chilling and cheering once I’m done”. She took it like a real veteran.

This brings me back to something I’ve learned over my career. Everything in life we do prepares us for a big day, and this is a great example. As the girls have mentioned before, they compete in pony jumpers. Now as many of you know the “A” Circuit is a hurry up and wait thing with no assigned times. Often times at pony jumpers I have signed the girls up first just to get the day rolling (they curse me for this!).

I always tell them that this is great practice for one day when it is important and you have no choice but to go first. Well, here we were. Eva did not disappoint and pulled off a very good test and made the team proud.

Eva Marquis on Hollywood leading off the Junior Championship Dressage. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Ella was third in rotation. Her horse Polly can sometimes be a fire-breathing dragon in dressage and since we have been here we have done a lot of calming dressage exercises. Call it “zen time in the mountains” — it worked! Ella pulled off a personal best score and truly tamed the beast.

Ella Marquis on her dragon gets ready to tame the beast under the watchful eye of coach Holly Jacks-Smither. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Teammates Chloe Duffy and Tosca Holmes-Smith were also fantastic, with Tosca leading the team with a score of 47.2 and eighth individually. Chloe, Eva and Ella were tightly clustered close to our next best score, Chloe’s 52.7. At the end of the day, the Junior Canadian Team was sitting in fourth, only 3 points away from bronze medal position.

Chloe Duffy embraces coach Jessica Phoenix after her strong dressage performance with Oro Veradero. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Tosca Holmes-Smith on Fiat. Photo by Mark Marquis.

I was so proud of these kids, as going in we knew that this was not a strong phase for them. Running and jumping is what got them here!

As for me I had a bit of a disappointing dressage test. I love my horse so much, as he has given me so many amazing opportunities, but I can’t lie — I was pretty frustrated leaving the ring. But guess what? This is eventing with two more phases still to come!

The first water complex of the NAJYRC CH-J* course. Photo by Mark Marquis.

Road to Rebecca, Presented by Bieman de Haas: How It All Got Started

We're excited to follow along with Bieman de Haas sponsored rider Holly Jacks-Smither on her journey to Montana to compete More Inspiration in The Event at Rebecca Farm CCI3*. Joining her on this adventure are sisters Ella and Eva Marquis who are competing in the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. Let's meet Ella, Eva and their horses. Click here to read part 1 and here to read part 2. Thanks for writing, ladies, and thanks for reading!

Ella, Eva and Holly. Photo courtesy of Holly Jacks-Smither.

How this whole thing got started… 

So I am totally excited to be coaching “the E’s,” Eva and Ella, at their first NAJYRC this year. I am also blessed to get to take my horse on the journey. As of now I feel like we all know each other inside and out. I have coached the girls for five years and we have been through a lot!

It all started with an email from momma Marquis. She found my name on the internet and needed help. They had bought a farm, a few rescue horses and wanted a coach who would help momma Marquis, papa Marquis and the E’s.

They had a lot to learn and had been steered in a few bad directions by some “sketchy horse people,” but they were common sense people with a lot of passion and a good work ethic so we got along from day one.  

Papa Marquis had come from a dirt biking background and thought eventing was just like Motocross only quieter. The kids were tough from day one so galloping and jumping seemed like a better fit than the hunter ring — they have always been way too ruff tuff and often dirty (AKA piglet 1 and piglet 2) for that sport! I am the same way; I grew up jumping picnic tables in BC and didn’t know how to put on a hair net until Sinead Halpin showed me well after I had done many FEIs!

We found a horse for dad, weeded out a few ponies for the girls that were on trial but not suitable and the relationship began.

Originally mom and dad started to event because the kids were too small, but a year into it the kids got out on the course and most of the time got to the finish line — though not always still on top of their ponies.

The E’s got tougher. Poor Eva probably fell off every way possible! But no matter what she would come back having learned something, and it wasn’t long before she started getting ribbons and upgrading through the levels.

We have had many ups and downs. We have had lots of adventures and I am so lucky to have this fantastic family in my life as owners, clients and friends. One thing for sure: There is NEVER a dull moment, and we try to keep it light and keep laughing. I think the reason the relationship works is that we all have fun in the process. We laugh about the falls and the setbacks and celebrate the wins.

So excited to go on this new adventure at Rebecca Farm!