Photo by Sherry Stewart
This week, we are reminded that you don't have to have the most expensive horse in the barn to find success and passion for our sport.
Delaney Vaden, eventer turned show jumper, is a force to be reckoned with in the show ring aboard her “mutt”, Jazz. Vaden was born into a non-horse family but quickly caught the riding bug when she began lessons on her seventh birthday. Initially an eventer, Vaden rose through the ranks as a junior with her Quarter Horse/Clydesdale/Thoroughbred cross, Jazz, whom she found in a fellow client’s backyard. Jazz, Vaden’s best friend and partner, navigated the eventing with Vaden from schooling shows all the way to CCI*** Long level. This dynamic duo even brought home a bronze and gold medal from Young Riders.
After Jazz suffered an injury, and Vaden made some personal life changes, the duo switched their sights to show jumping and dressage in 2018. Vaden notes, “Jazz is my partner” and a slight career change to meet both of their needs has been exciting and fun. Since making the switch, Vaden and her pasture disaster turned sport horse have had nothing but success in and out of the show ring. Now competing as a show jumper in her final junior year, Vaden trains with Sarah Pollock at Templeton Farms on the Central Coast. Most recently, the duo earned Reserve Champion along with the classic win in the Modified Junior/Amatuer Jumpers at the Silicon Equestrian Festival in Woodside, California.
Still an avid dressage competitor, Vaden recently won at the Dressage Championships in Rancho Murieta. Vaden continues dressage lessons and competitions aside from her training with Pollock, as the strong emphasis on flatwork has “helped a lot with rhythm and connection to the jumps” and made them a nearly unbeatable team in their jump offs.
Vaden credits her successes to her strong partnership with Jazz, noting that he has made her the rider and person she is today; Jazz’s strong personality and heart outshine his muddled bloodlines in Vaden’s eyes. From unassuming team to fierce competitors, this partnership has taught Vaden to be patient, resilient, and determined. Most importantly, Jazz and this sport have taught Vaden how to be humble; she acknowledges, “when you win one show then fall off at the next, you get a sense of how small you are”. Although it is a tough sport with many lessons to learn, Vaden loves horses and riding—they are her happy place.
As Vaden and Jazz continue their journey under Pollock's tutelage, she hopes to continue to progress in show jumping up to the Grand Prix level, and to one day compete internationally.
Good luck Delaney and Jazz! Kick some imported-horse-butt!