Rob Jacobs fell in love with the hunter and equitation rings while growing up in Maryland. With limited resources behind him, he worked hard to earn additional opportunities to develop his passion for horses. He obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree from St. Andrews University (North Carolina) and won an Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association national championship during his time there. He’s trained horses and riders in a university setting as well as in private show barns on the East Coast. He also started a nonprofit, “The Robert Lawrence House Of Opportunity,” to provide affordable quality instruction via clinics. In January of 2021, he moved to California to become an assistant trainer for Archie Cox at his Brookway Stables.
4:30 a.m. The alarm goes off. I snooze twice and then get up. I head into the bathroom, get myself ready and dressed, then take my dog outside for a morning walk while coffee is brewing in the Keurig.
5:30 a.m. I get in my truck and make the 10-minute drive to the Desert International Horse Park showgrounds in Thermal, California.
5:45 a.m. I arrive at the barn, check in with the COVID screening crew and get my COVID wristband for the day. I then give Ulcergard to the horses that are showing. I am usually on my first horse by 6:15. We have a great team of guys who organize the horses and keep them well-groomed. They are usually getting the horses ready while I am working in the morning.
6:30 a.m. I usually have one or two horses to ride in the rings in the morning to make sure they see where they are showing and get comfortable. We only have a few horses that do better if they see the ring in the morning. All of our others are quite seasoned and accustomed to walking in any arena without seeing it.
7:45 a.m. The horses are ridden and prepped for the day. My stomach is empty, and I realize I never did get breakfast, so I grab a quick bite from VIP. There is no time to sit and eat, so I eat on the go!
8 a.m. Archie and I divide the different course walks for the jumpers and equitation classes. Because we usually compete in most of the competition rings as the first class of the day, we must strategize which courses we each will walk with the riders. This way there is enough time to thoroughly walk and make plans for how certain parts of the courses may ride. Some courses are very straightforward with no options, while other courses may be more difficult with many options throughout the course.
When we have a busy week of showing, we then decide the order the horses will show based on the schedule to reduce as many ring conflicts as possible. It is nearly impossible to have it perfectly where there are zero conflicts, but we work hard to reduce as many as possible. Depending on the horses and their program, I will show some of the horses in schooling classes early in the week before the kids show. Nick Haness and Jamie Taylor usually show our derby horses and 4’ horses. We have a very strong team, and everyone brings something unique to the team.
I head out on the golf cart and meet up with the riders ringside for my first course walk of the day. I have two more course walks after that, and then it’s time to ride.
10 a.m. I meet my first horse at the ring for a schooling class. Archie is a big believer in the horses coming to the warm-up ring prepared and relaxed, so there isn’t a need to “get the horse relaxed” when he arrives at the ring. He is already relaxed and settled, and this makes our job a lot easier. It is also helpful that none of our horses are truly green. When I think of “green,” I think of the horses I grew up riding that were at a point in their training where they were just learning lead changes, and maybe just learning how to maintain relaxation throughout their courses. We don’t have those types of green horses, which is a real pleasure. Our version of green is: It was a 1.20-1.30-meter jumper, and we are converting it into a hunter or equitation horse.
3 p.m. We’re all done showing for the day. Some days we don’t finish until 4:30. I’m starving and head straight to VIP to grab a bite to eat.
3:30 p.m. I go back to the barn to begin preparing for the next day. I check that any horses that need any kind of medication receive it, and I work with Archie to make sure the list of classes we are entered in for the following day is accurate. If not, we add or scratch classes as needed.
5:30 p.m. After all “i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed,” my little dog Mya and I head home for the evening. Archie rented a very nice house for his assistants in Indio, California, that we share, so it’s been a very comfortable place to live. I am lucky enough to have a pool and hot tub, so I might hang poolside for a half hour, or I’ll get takeout from my favorite spot. I watch a little bit of something on Netflix to unwind, and then I’m in bed by 8:30 so I can do it all over again tomorrow.