There are some common characteristics of top eventers…. Fiesty, Tenacious, multi-tasker, competitive, thrill seeker.
When I think of Jill Henneberg, she has them all, which has contributed to her being a successful eventer. I would also add hard worker and honest in there as well.
From the Beginning…..
Growing up in New Jersey, Jill has loved horses from the very beginning. She was always an active kid. She did soccer, ice skating, dance, etc… By age 11, She started taking riding lessons once a week at Suddenly Farm in Medford, NJ. Soon thereafter, she started taking lessons from Debbie Adams at Flora Lea. Debbie Adams is a very familiar name to the eventing world. She’s been a top competitor as well as having a fantastic eye for great event horses.
Jill started looking for a horse to buy, she never thought that a $600 3yr old, OTTB, gray mare would be her horse of a life time! Jill worked hard at the farm to pay for lessons and rode her bike to get there. The next year she took the 4yrear old mare, now named Nirvana II, to Snipe Hunt Farm for her first event.
As the pair grew their partnership, it wasn’t till Jill and Nirvana went to Pleasant Hollow Farms as a working student for the summer with Jane Cory, that she realized what Nirvana was capable of. I met Jill there, she was one of the “cool teenagers”, while I was a camper during the summers at Pleasant Hollow Farms.
Those were the days!
One day, Jane took Jill and Nirvana to a cross country schooling at Bruce Davidson’s(America’s most prolific international event rider and breeder) for the day. At that point, Jill & Nirvana had only competed novice and maybe schooled some training fences. Bruce had the pair easily sailing over big preliminary fences! Jill got the eventing fever and was inspired to work hard, train hard, and grow as a competitor in eventing.
In the 1990’s, international eventer, Michael Godfrey, was very involved with Area II Young Riders. Jill started training with Michael to further her eventing career. I also trained with Michael and looked up to Jill. Even back then, Jill always presented herself well dressed and sharp looking. I also remember, she had the cutest hound mutt side-kick called Casey.
Jill and Nirvana were two peas in a pod and were fearless over the cross country course.
Jill competed at Rolex and was soon setting her sights on the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA! She was a part of the USA Team for the 1996 Olympics and contributed to their Silver Medal.
I asked Jill, What do you love so much about your sport?
I love the all around horsewoman you have to be in order to event. The careful balance between elegant dressage combined with the need for the endurance and level of fitness for cross country and then to be able to pull back and be so careful and feel great on day three for stadium.
I love the challenge of getting to that end stage.
I now absolutely love producing horses and see them succeed.
Jill resides mostly in The Plains, VA. She lives a mile from the O’Connors and is nestled in that community of eventers down around Middleburg, VA. She spends part of her winters in FL.
She has a Jack Russell named Farfle, aka Fifi…. Farfle is used when the dog is bad, Fifi when the dog is good! Farfle is on the right in this picture and her other faithful companion Buster, on the left, recently passed… Everyone will miss him greatly.
I asked Jill to describe the style and culture of your discipline, what’s the core of it like?
There isn’t much style on a daily basis, it’s a rigorous life and takes many hours of the day, but at the end of the day I still like to look like a girl as well.
I get my nails done and try to look my best.
I’m disappointed in instructors that don’t require students to look put together.
– Shirts tucked in.
– Look sharp and neat
– Look put together on top of the horse.
-Your students will follow your example.
Jogout advice from Jill:
Don’t tack it up & Don’t look like you are going to a night club! Think about coordinating with your horse. Look tasteful and professional, you are there for a job.
I think it’s great that people are paying better attention to what they wear for horse inspections!
Stay tuned for Part 2!– Jill’s wardrobe basics, go to pieces, brands she loves, etc….