When she received the news that her gelding Driftin Juniper had earned the 2017 High Point Award for top-scoring American Quarter Horse competing in Working Equitation, owner Jill Lovelace was ecstatic.
“This means so much to me. Drifter was the first horse I bought when I decided it was finally time for my life-long dream of horse ownership to become a reality. He was certainly a challenge. He had a lot of trust issues and was a ball of tension. At the time, I had a lot of people tell me I’d made the wrong choice in horse. Many of them advised me to sell him and find another, calmer horse with more potential.”
Before she found Working Equitation, Jill and Drifter participated in a variety of activities. The two were very active on a competitive Drill Team for years, tried their hand at some Quarter Horse functions, and spent some time doing ranch work and trail courses.
“I remember the first time I attended a Working Equitation clinic in Oregon and thinking that the sport looked fun, but I wasn’t sure if I could get Drifter to the point where he could compete,” Jill reflects. Ultimately, though, she decided to give it a try, and the results speak for themselves.
Jill and Drifter are regulars at Working Equitation competitions in the Northwest, where they normally finish high up in the placings. They won the Reserve National Championship title at the 2017 WE United Championships, and Jill was among the first people in the United States to earn her Bronze Lifetime Rider Medal, with all her required scores earned on Driftin Juniper.
Jill credits her dressage instructor Sarah Kress for helping her unlock Drifter’s potential and helping her learn how to teach him to use his body better, something required for the self-carriage, relaxation, and proper movement through the body so important in the sport. She also acknowledges the great help that Australian Working Equitation trainer and judge Kim Peterson has provided to her and comments on how riding regularly with fellow Oregonian WE competitor and trainer Morgan Wagner has also helped her in her progression in the sport.
With 48 AQHA-registered horses actively competing in North American Working Equitation competitions in 2017, Driftin Juniper’s accomplishment is certainly worthy of celebration. Congratulations, Jill and Drifter!