With graceful gallops and breathtaking jumps, horse-jumping is often only seen as a beautiful revelry. However, the grit, hours of practice and the development of the partnership of rider and horse is often overlooked as the underlying core of this challenging sport.
It is with this at the young age of 11 years old, that Atena Santos undertakes horse jumping as she continues to grow to hone her craft and perfect efforts in the sport. Training often exceeds hours on end, like most riders, Atena lives and breathes horse jumping--and it shows. Despite her size, Atena has begun to ride in a style reminiscent of one her idols, Beezie Madden, gracefully gliding with speed and accuracy.
Naturally, a humbling sport, being able to compete requires practice in different situations to prepare for the pressure of the high-level competition. Atena practices daily with her horses, watches her teammates and coverage of other champion riders to develop and hone her skills. Her day at the LGCT is a long time coming, from her first ride on a pony at age 8 and continuing with her training horse and longtime partner, Zorro.
Over the three days of the event, the crowd at the Mexican Leg of LGCT exceeded thousands. All of who watched intently as Atena made her debut. Riding a two phase course against the clock at 1.15 meters, Atena rode two clear rounds with no faults with two separate horses; her beloved, Zorro and new friend, Caretina.
Riders begin with walking the course, counting their steps to determine the horse's strides between obstacles, they study the course to evaluate strategy based on each horse’s strengths and weakness. Discussions with her trainer on how to approach each curve and turn, like a driver at the grid at F-1, jumpers like Atena approach the course with decisive preparation to ensure accurate jumps, to avoid faults and deliver the best experience possible for their horses.
Silence spreads and with the indicator set, she and Zorro are off at their first hurdle, jumping swiftly with each mark. As they clear the last hurdle with no faults and enter the pin for return, she is all smiles with an amazing run.
With a future wide open, Atena, now has a new horse in her life. A six-year-old Dutch Warmblood that she looks to develop and raise as a champion jumper. As of late, she has brought him up to the 1 meter level in competition and won the 90cm CSI 2*in Otomi. With Zorro still by her side, Atena continues the competition circuit having established herself in the Infantil Medium Class. Her eyes forward toward greatness and the FEI Children Silver Classics this June.