21 Sep Jess KJ:The Story of Alvin
Jess Keeble-Jenkins and her horse Hard Target, otherwise known as ‘Alvin’, have been a successful partnership for many years. Having won and placed in some of the most prestigious events in Western Australia, they are a formidable pair in the eventing circuit. In this blog post, Jess shares the story of Alvin and how they came to form such a great partnership!
“It all started one Friday. I was spending the day at the stables with Eve and Sarah, my coach and friend. Little did mum know we were going to look at a horse. We arrived at Eliva Park where I was approached by a large, off-the-track bay thoroughbred called Alvin who was 4 years old. Eve’s ﬁrst words were “Check out the knees on that one!”
I was only thirteen and kept concentrating on how big he was. Watching him getting tacked up ready for me to ride, all I can remember thinking was how young he seemed, putting almost everything in his mouth. It wasn’t long until I was on him warming up and getting a feel of what my future horse would be like.
Riding around he was pretty quiet for a thoroughbred, but he was a bit of a head shaker. Before I knew it there was a jump put up in the arena… He went straight over without battering an eye lid, although there wasn’t much steering on the other side of the jump. It wasn’t until after I had ﬁnished my ride on Alvin that I was informed that he hadn’t been ridden in two weeks and never had been ridden in that arena (pretty good for a 4-year-old). Now came the tough part, how to tell mum how I really spent my day!
By that Tuesday, Alvin arrived at the stables I agist. He went straight into the paddock and within 15 minutes he had jumped out of the paddock. I remember how shocked I was and Eve making a comment “Well at least we know he’s a good jumper”. Me thinking what have we just done, am I going to be able to retrain this horse to be my eventer. My main focus for the ﬁrst few months was to stop his head shaking and be able to sit to the canter without him breaking into trot. Three months later, we entered our ﬁrst show; the 4 year old Young Event Horse.
It wasn’t until Alvin turned 7 that I thought something had clicked, and everything started to come together. We competed in the 7 year old Young Event Horse on the 1st of December 2013. That was, and still is, a very special day to me as that’s when we won our very ﬁrst rug. On the same day we were also competing in the Team Challenge and was lucky enough to be a part of the winning team. So this was the day Alvin and I didn’t just win one rug but two rugs.
I’m not saying retraining an Off The Track Thoroughbred is easy! I’ve had many years ﬁlled with blood, sweat and tears, but when it all comes together it’s the best feeling to know that everything you’ve achieved is through your own training, determination, mistakes and accomplishments. I’m lucky to have found Alvin as he’s allowed me to fulﬁl my goals and dreams. He is truly one in a million, always giving everything a try and putting in 110% effort.
6 years on, Alvin and I are now at 2* eventing level and our main goal this year is compete in the Adelaide 3DE. If someone had told me when I ﬁrst got Alvin that 6 years from now you’ll be at 2* level and competing over East, I wouldn’t have believed them. It just goes to show that hard work and determination can take you places you never thought possible and I would do it all again.
Even though I have owned Alvin for just over 6 years now, I feel that our journey has only just begun and I’m looking forward to the future with him and my other young horse Dolly. Alvin has been a great teacher for Dolly. When I ﬁrst started training Dolly, I would ride Alvin and lead Dolly (especially through water). It’s going to be a challenge this year to try keep two horses in full-time work while also studying full time and working part-time, but I’m looking forward to it especially having multiple sponsors to support us and join in on this new event season.
I have been sponsored by Thompson and Redwood for nearly two years now, and am very happy with the condition of both my horses. In particular, I love the T&R Hi Performance muesli to keep Alvin conditioned but with enough energy to compete at the highest level.