Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 17
Jordan Allen might be an inspiration to the youths who follow her riding endeavors, but it’s really she who benefits most from their kind words and support.
“It’s the sweetest thing in the world when they’re like, ‘You know, we really look up to you,’ ” said Allen, 18, who finished third in Saturday’s $100,000 WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular with the 7-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Kind Of Blue. “With social media being such a good platform, I get a lot of [direct messages and] emails from cute kids. I don’t think it means a lot to them, but it means so much to me; it makes my day.”
It’s no surprise to Allen that she stands out from the crowd. She doesn’t own a horse; she’s a working student for Ashland Farms, and she’s one of the few African Americans competing in the sport.
“I wish the sport was more diverse,” she said. “I think it isn’t because it’s not accessible to everyone. It’s just so expensive, it’s so time-consuming, and there’s got to be less than 1 percent doing this. So, to me, it means a lot. I’m not just doing it for me; I’m doing it for so many people. Not even just African Americans, [but] so many different kids.”
Allen, Holly, Michigan, began riding at 7 when her mother gave her a riding lesson for her birthday. She stuck with it and found a home in the local Haverhill Farms before moving to Huntington Ridge Farm to train with Kim Carey.
At Carey’s suggestion, Allen moved to Ashland Farms six years later, where she currently trains at the Lexington, Kentucky, base during the summer. She calls Wellington, Florida, home during the winter, and lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan, throughout the remainder of the year. Her parents, Rhonda and Sherman Allen, are her biggest supporters.
“I cannot put [my parents’] support into words,” said Jordan. “My mom and dad could not want this more for me. They work a lot, but whenever they aren’t working they come to watch.
“They’ve always known I wanted to do this, and anything I ever want to do my parents are full forward with it,” Jordan added. “I mean it sucks [that] it’s expensive, so my dad always complains about that, but [they] know how much I love it, and anything I love they’ll do for me.”
Jordan began taking riding lessons at Ashland with her former horse Chaucer. When Chaucer ended his career as a show horse in September 2017, Jordan began riding a horse a week for Ashland, which unfolded into a working student opportunity.
“I’m still a working student for [Ken and Emily Smith], and I can’t put it into words—they’re like such a second family to me,” she said. “I’m so grateful for all the opportunities they’ve given me. I don’t own any horses, and each week there are so many horses for me to show. They get horses for me to show, and I’m beyond grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”
Jordan is also active on the jumper and equitation circuits.
“I have the most appreciation for the hunters,” said Jordan. “[It’s] something about the way you can make the horses jump, and especially under the lights. The feeling they give you when they know you want to win—like, I know Kind Of Blue wanted to win the [Spectacular]. They try harder and harder every jump. I think it’s so special.”
Jordan got the opportunity to ride Kind Of Blue, owned by Float On Equestrian LLC, before the start of the winter circuit in Wellington. Upon qualifying with “BB” for the Spectacular, her goal was to see the competition through to the end.
“I really went into it hoping to come back for the second round,” said Jordan. “Knowing how brave and careful and amazing BB is, I knew he could do it. It was really me I was worried about. After the first round, he jumped better and better. I really went into the handy wanting another consistent round, and I think it’s possible he tried harder.
“I haven’t done many night classes, but the feeling of everyone being there supporting you—it’s really like nothing else,” she added. “[It was] one of my most exciting nights; I’ll never forget it. My parents were here to see it. [They’re] my best friends, [and] I could hear them [cheering] over everyone. It was amazing.”
Does Jordan forsee a professional riding career in her future? She’s currently on a gap year before starting school at the University of South Carolina this fall, but after Saturday’s podium finish, anything is possible.
“Every single day I want it more and more,” said Jordan. “I’d like to be in the medical field for sure, and I know I’ll finish school. After school, I’d like to be an amateur for a while, and then we’ll just see. There’s no way I can stay away from it, I know that.”