Phoenix is ready with a mare and a spare

Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance.

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She is one of Canada’s hardest working eventers and despite leaving tomorrow to compete at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG), she rode this weekend at Wits End Horse Horse Trials on four horses and coached eight students. This will be her second WEG and this time she is on the team. Canada is looking to secure a coveted Olympic qualification and Jess and A Little Romance are prepared. A Little Romance is owned by Anita and Don Leschied of Ontario. Pavarotti is her WEG alternate horse and he is owned by Don Good.

Recently, Jess sat down with Eventing Connect to have a chat before heading across the pond. With a smile that lights up a room and an infectious laugh it is impossible not to be a fan of Jess.

This is your second time going to the WEG, how does it feel this time to go as a team member instead of an individual?
In all of my experiences, whether you are a team member or an individual it all feels the exact same. As an individual, you don’t feel the same pressure of having to perform for your team but all of the support that you get is identical and you feel just as much a member of that team.

Does it change your riding strategy on cross-country day when you are riding for a team?
Yes absolutely. When you are on a team you definitely have to do what your team needs. You have to be willing to take a different route on cross-country if your team needs that. Basically, you just have to be able to put a good score together for your team. Whatever your coach tells you to do is what you need to do.

You rode Exponential around his first four star at the 2010 WEG, these WEG will be A Little Romance’s first four star, do you feel she is as ready as Exponential was?
A Little Romance is definitely greener than Exponential. He had done several three stars by that point. Now I am more experienced. That was also my first four star at the WEG in 2010. Now I have a couple more four stars under my belt. Things should balance out and I am very excited to be riding her at these WEG.

What specifically have you been doing with A Little Romance to get her ready for her first four star?
After Bromont she had a couple of weeks where she just hung out and then she started hacking. Now she has been in full work. With her, our focus has been a lot on dressage and then just the technical aspects of cross-country. We have been schooling lots of skinnies and angles, making sure she is ready to go.

You had numerous horses in contention for the WEG this year and you have several different owners. How do you mangage it when one owner’s horse gets chosen over another’s to be on a team?
You just have to be completely open with the owners. I think my owners are just as much vested in me and my journey as they are in their own horse. Obviously everyone wants their own horse to do well. But they are in support of whatever horse gets chosen for the team.

The enviable position of having two horses qualified and ready for WEG  is a testament to Jess’s commitment and skill.  We wish them the best of luck and hope to see Canada on the podium again like in 2010.
Jessica’s website

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