Crazy idea turns into dream reality for JayLynn Hines
Friends thought equestrian jumper JayLynn Hines had completely lost her mind when she purchased a horse in Belgium amid the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
“For a lot of people close to me, it was a crazy decision because I decided to buy a horse in the middle of the Covid pandemic with no security on what the world was going to look like from day to day,” the 28-year-old assistant underwriter told The Royal Gazette. “However, it was kind of a right-place and right-time situation.
“Patrick Nisbett [Bermudian jumper and horse breeder] has known me for awhile as a trainer and he said he had the perfect horse for me; a very young, green horse with great bloodlines.
“I trusted Patrick’s suggestion and decided that perhaps it was time for me to be able to finally own my own horse.
“As a child, we never had the means to be able to own my own horse, so it seemed serendipitous that Toto had become an option.
“He was a young horse [five-years-old] and hadn’t done much, so it was an opportunity to finally bring along my own horse.
“He really is a special horse and made my 20 plus year dream come true of finally being able to have my own horse.”
Hines’s decision to take up Nisbett’s advice has paid off as she and her eight-year-old gelding have enjoyed considerable success competing in local equestrian events.
The pair really came into their own this past season which they capped by taking home the Champion Horse Jumper of the Year and Champion Horse Jumper 1.2-metre and Over trophies during Bermuda Equestrian Federation's award ceremony.
“This year is probably the year where Toto really shined and showed how athletic he really is,” said Hines, who started riding horses at the age of six.
“The year started out with quite a number of horse shows which helped with the mileage he needs as a young horse.
“Horses are very sensitive animals to stimuli and their environment, so it was nice to get him quite comfortable at the horse show grounds.”
Hines’s Zangersheide-bred horse coped so well in the lower height classes that she decided to gradually try him in the bigger classes similar to the heights he had previously jumped in Belgium before being brought to Bermuda.
“We eventually progressed to him doing his first 1.3m course, which is the highest class offered in Bermuda at the moment, and he jumped a beautiful clear round,” added Hines, who has represented Bermuda in the sport in various regions including North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean.
“It showed me just how talented he was and how much potential he has as a developing show jumper.
“From there we maintained jumping him at the 1.3m height, where I was able to gauge where both of our weaknesses and strengths are, and thus knew where his benchmark was to be able to continue to work on things at home to help him and myself develop as the rider.”
It has not exactly been all smooth sailing for Hines and her horse who have endured their fair share of challenges together.
“Despite all the wins, it didn’t always go well,” she said.
“Sometimes I’ve sat at my trailer and cried after a round because it did not go well.
“But we always have to remember that horses are animals and have a mind of their own. They get nervous and anxious just like we do and don’t always perform at their best, but that’s OK.
“You can do everything right in preparation for a show only for it to all just fall apart on the day.
“This sport and those moments are incredibly humbling, but the saying is true that you just have to get back on the horse.”
It also took awhile for the pair to gel.
“When he got to Bermuda from Belgium, he tested every capability I thought I had as a rider,” Hines said..
“In the two years I have had him, I have fallen off him more times than any horse in the last ten years.
“He is ‘Mr Personality’ at Inwood Stables, making everyone smile and laugh with his larger-than-life personality and troublesome ways.
“I wouldn’t change his personality for the world; he is super athletic, works hard and often has a mind of his own.
“However, when he shows you his best, it’s more than I could ever ask for.”