When It is More Than Just A Ribbon

Allie Jones and Jilco. Photo by Sophiea Bitel. Allie Jones and Jilco. Photo by Sophiea Bitel.

Riding takes courage. You may not want to recognize that because it makes you think of everything that can and does go wrong when you ride. When there is a serious accident, it takes a great deal of courage and personal strength to ride again, and some of us can never ride again.  That is why I want to recognize a rider today — a rider who did ride again.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge a great accomplishment of one rider at the WNRDC Pipestave Horse Trials in West Newbury, Massachusetts, on October 11. The blue ribbon in dressage may have seemed ordinary to some, but it was a great victory by a quiet, unassuming woman on a small, dark bay horse you would not necessarily notice.

Allie Jones and Jilco took first place in dressage, but it was more than a dressage test we watched. A few years back on a windy day with her previous horse, a Friesian, Allie was in a horrific riding accident which involved being dragged down a road by a galloping, spooked horse that resulted in severe injuries that required reconstructive surgeries and months of therapy. Allie did know if she would give up riding or even be able to ride again.

Allie during her long recovery fostered a New England Equine Rescue (NEER) North mare named Jilco. She started slowly riding again and adopted Jilco. With the help of friends and the support of her fellow riders at Riverrun Farm in West Newbury, Massachusetts, she started to do ring work, and then trail rides, and then began to compete locally with Jilco.

It was not easy. Jilco can be a nervous mare at times, but Allie Jones persevered. Many of us watched with trepidation as the wind came up suddenly and Jilco became jiggy as they were ready to begin their dressage test. Allie was amazing, staying calm and giving Jilco confidence. Unless those watching knew their story, it appeared to be just another dressage test.

What can be said except: Allie Jones and Jilco, congratulations on your blue ribbon. Tt was more than well deserved. You are an example to all of us of courage and how a rider can come back from injury and adversity.

I hope some day your new granddaughter will know your story and understand when she competes. It was more than just a ribbon you won that day.