We hear all the time about horses at the top of the sport, but what about the next generation of equine talent? EN’s Got Talent introduces the future superstars of the sport, interviewing riders about how they’re tackling training with these youngsters.
Jaguar Duende gives Sharon White wings.
The young bay Westphalian mare (Jaguar Mail – Latina x Lancaster), is starting to take flight at the FEI level. While only in her second season of international competition, “Jag” is one we expect you’ll see at the very top of the sport one day. “She is just a competitor. I’ve never had a horse be that competitive, to be honest,” said rider and owner Sharon White.
Jag’s magical name matches her Pegasus-like jumping abilities. “Duende is a magical spirit. It is like a magical fairy or a sprite. I just think it fits her to a tee,” Sharon said. “When she’s going around cross country it’s like she has wings, like you’re sitting on a little fairy. She just lifts up off the ground so easily.”
Her less serious barn name suits the classy mare equally well. Plus, it lets Sharon have some fun. “I get to say I’m taking the Jag out,” Sharon said, chuckling.
Bred by Hendrikus-Johannes Von Boggel in Germany, Jag comes from a star-studded lineage. Her sire, Jaguar Mail, was ranked as the second best sire for three years in a row, from 2017 to 2019 and is currently standing at New Normandy Farm. He competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, ridden by Peter Eriksson for Switzerland. According to New Normandy Farm, Eriksson thought highly of the stallion, saying he was “always in the best of moods and always ready to go to work in and out of the stables.”
It seems that Jag has a lot of her father’s personality. “She is a worker. She’s funny. I’ve had to teach her to learn to take a breath because she tries so hard. She just puts in so much effort,” said Sharon.
Sharon bought Jag sight unseen when she was three years old. “Dirk Schrade from Germany found her for me. He broke her, he started her, he did all the things, until she was ready to come to the States when she was five years old,” Sharon said.
It takes a lot of skill to find a top competition horse, but Sharon says there’s no one she’d trust more than Dirk to find her next top competitor. “I trust Dirk to just find the horses for me. I didn’t even see her before I bought her. I mean I probably got a picture or something,” Sharon said. “You have to find things in life you trust, you know? I trust Dirk, and I trust Jag. I’m not actually very good at picking horses for myself, but it’s easy to do it for someone else. So if you have someone who can help you, that’s priceless.”
Since coming to the United States a little over two years ago, a lot has changed for Jag, physically and mentally. “She’s grown so much. When she got here she was a little tiny thing. And now she’s huge. Dirk cannot believe how big she’s gotten,” Sharon said. “It definitely took me a year to really feel like we were on the same team. But now it feels like I’ve been riding her forever. It doesn’t feel like a new partnership at all anymore. She’s very much with me.”
The exponential growth of Jag and Sharon’s partnership is most likely due to the mare’s trainability… or perhaps because she gets plenty of her favorite treat: bananas. “She is very food motivated. She will eat anything. Bananas are her favorite thing. She’ll do anything for a banana peel,” Sharon said.
Sharon and Jag’s close connection in combination with the mare’s raw talent has paid off in spades so far. The mare has completed four FEI events at the two-star level, including one CCI2*-L. She’s never placed lower than third, even in highly competitive fields against other top riders. “Her record is unreal, I’m very proud of that actually,” said Sharon.
While Jag does have two withdrawals after the dressage phase on her record, both were due to Sharon becoming ill. “It was so hot and I was so sick. I just thought I wouldn’t do her any justice.”
If you ask most eventers which phase is most difficult for their horses and which phase their horse enjoys the most, you’ll probably get the same answer seven out of ten times: dressage is the hardest, cross country is the easiest. Jag is the exception to the rule. “She is excellent in all three phases and competitive in all three phases and wants to do the right thing in all three phases,” Sharon said of the type-A mare.
As a matter of fact, Sharon’s biggest struggle with the young mare has been controlling her own temptations to move up the levels faster. “My only struggle with her has been being patient enough. And I’m doing a good job of that I think, because she is one of those horses that it would be easy to push her too fast. Strength takes time. You can’t rush strength.”
Biding her time is finally about to pay off. After two seasons at the two-star level, Sharon has made the decision to move the mare onto bigger things. “She’ll move up this fall. I wanted to move her up at Millbrook. But there’s that rule that you can’t move up if you haven’t done an event in three months and the last thing she did was the CCI2*-L at Ocala. So she missed the deadline by three days. It was fine, it’s no big deal to wait a little longer to move her up,” Sharon said.
Jag took on the Preliminary Horse Championships at the USEA American Eventing Championships and will move up to the Intermediate level this fall. Again proving her talent, Jag and Sharon were crowned Champions of the Preliminary Horse division, finishing on a remarkably low score of 28.5. Those duende wings clearly served her well, as she pulled off a double clear round on both cross country and show jumping and finished on her dressage score.
We cannot wait to see what the future holds for Jaguar Duende and Sharon, as they shoot for the stars.
This article was sponsored by World Equestrian Brands. As Sharon is on the World Equestrian Brands’ trainer team, she’s very familiar with not only their products, but the company as a whole. “They don’t do something if it’s not good. Anything you get from them you know that they’ve thought about whether it’s something that they want to put their name to, to distribute or produce or support. I absolutely love that about a company. It’s about quality.”