Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 11
Two years ago, Madeline Jordan’s mother was told her child would never ride again. While trick-or-treating through a neighborhood in their hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., in 2015, Jordan was hit by an impaired driver. She broke her femur, tore her meniscus and sustained a head injury that had neurosurgeons telling her mother, Monica, she would never be cleared to ride again.
Fast forward two years, and 13-year-old Madeline led the victory gallop for the medium green pony hunter division at USEF Pony Finals aboard her pony, Shamrock.
“It’s just, it’s overwhelming,” Monica said, wiping tears from the corner of her eyes. “We never thought we’d be here. We never thought we’d be back.”
Madeline’s recovery was a marathon—she spent months in the hospital and had a rod placed in her femur. When she was finally able to go home she was grateful to have the company of her ponies, who live at home on the farm with the Jordans in Tallahassee.
“My small [pony], Playtime, I had him at the time and he was perfect, like I’d be in my wheelchair and I could go pet him,” Madeline said. “And then I kind of skipped a year of riding, and my first show back was [HITS Ocala (Fla.)] in 2016.”
That’s when she got her current pony Shamrock, known around the barn as “Louie.”
“Louie just took care of me,” Madeline said. “And then I had another surgery to get the rod taken out of my leg on Aug. 25 of 2016, and then the next week I rode Louie and he was perfect.”
Madeline and Louie were sitting in 13th place going into the over-fences class for the medium green division, a relatively long way to go to capture the win, but Louie’s foot-perfect round vaulted them to the top of the division.
“I was a little nervous just because, I don’t know, it’s Pony Finals, of course everyone’s nervous. So I was like, ‘OK well I guess I’ll just go,’ and I said, ‘Well, I hope I don’t chip the first jump!’ ” Madeline said with a grin. “Then I went in and the first jump was good, and usually the first jump is my hardest part! And the rest of the course was really good, and I was going from the nine-[stride] to the two-[stride] and I was like, ‘Go Louie, go!’ And he just said, ‘OK, whee!’ ”
Madeline’s happy-go-lucky personality was hard to miss even in a short interview—as soon as she was finished, she skipped down the path to where her pony was waiting to take more pictures with the crowd of well-wishers who had gathered to congratulate her. Her parents Grady and Monica were ushered in for a family shot, and you can truly say this is one family that could care less about the cooler their pony was wearing or the tricolor ribbon on its bridle. Madeline was in the irons and grinning from ear-to-ear, and that was a personal victory of much more epic proportions.