Olivia Glenn and her mount compete at the Southern Regional 4-H Championships
IF YOU’VE BEEN RIDING HORSES since the age of six like sixteen-year-old Olivia Glenn has, competing in the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships is a big deal. “It was very exciting,” shares Glenn. A sophomore at Winter Haven High School, Glenn advanced through the Florida State Horse Show to compete alongside other riders from the southeast at the regional championship in Perry, Georgia, at the end of July.
Glenn and her Percheron-Friesian cross, named Change of Heart, have been riding together for nearly two years. “He’s a really big boy,” Glenn jokes, and adds that he’s a really hard worker. “I know that he’s always going to give me 100 percent. He’s always going to try his hardest for me,” she shares. “I can just tell that he absolutely loves to do his job. That always gives me a boost of confidence.”
That boost of confidence definitely came in handy, as both Glenn and Change of Heart, so named because of the distinctive heart-shaped star marking on his head, did very well at the job of representing the Sunshine State at regionals. They competed in the Dressage, First Level Test 3 event and took first place. They also competed in Dressage, Training Level Test 3, placing third. “That’s where we shine the most, Dressage,” Glenn states.
The highlight for the young student was simply being at the event. “Placing so high for our first regional show was really awesome,” she says, “and being able to compete with horses from all over the southeast. The whole experience was just great.” Glenn and Change of Heart, sometimes called by his nickname Bentley, also competed in English Showmanship and a Hunter Under Saddle Equitation Class. While they didn’t place in the top ten, Glenn felt that the silver lining was that the events exposed Bentley to new things.
As fun as the event was, it was also a lot of work. Both Bentley and his rider trained as hard as the summer heat would allow. The pair rode three or four days a week, and Glenn’s trainer, Marie Davidson, came down from Ocala a few times a month for lessons. “She’s beyond amazing,” Glenn proclaims, happy to share credit for their success at regionals. “I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Marie.”
Glenn also shares credit with her horse. “I used to get really bad performance anxiety when I first started showing,” she recalls. However, it was that special bond between horse and rider that helped her to work through her performance anxiety. “As I learned more about horses and how to deal with my emotions, I learned that horses feel everything that you feel. The more I got nervous, the more he would get nervous, or the more anxious I’d get, the more anxious he would get,” she explains. “I just learned to control it.”
She now uses her disappointments as life lessons rather than failures. “You’re always going to have bad rides, and I just use those times as a learning experience,” she says. It’s a mentality that will serve her well in both the short term and foreseeable future. She’s looking at the University of Florida after high school, hoping to ride on the UF Equestrian Team and study Animal Science. While college is a few years off, there is one thing Glenn knows for sure: “One way or another, I’ll always be riding horses.”
article by ERIKA ALDRICH