This week, we catch up with Jennifer Williams of Summervale Premier Dressage. Jennifer has more than 20 years of experience with equestrian sales and an impressive competition record to go along with it. Among training other horses through her business, Jennifer competes her own 15-year-old Danish bay gelding named Millione at the International Grand Prix level in dressage.
Jennifer began her life in the horse world at age 3, thanks to her mother's love for horses. She said, "I was fortunate enough to get connected with a well-known breeder and begin to ride high-quality horses when I was about 17. I worked hard and worked my way up the levels on multiple types of horses. My first GP was when I was 23 on an Oldenburg mare Phirst Solo. I was incredibly blessed to be able to take her grandson HS Wistar and her great-grandson HS Wrevolution to the GP levels as well. In 2016 I was able to begin my partnership with Millione and develop him to the GP level which he debuted this year."
As one may easily guess, Jennifer knew early on in her riding career that riding and training horses was something that she wanted to make into a lifestyle. So, that's exactly what she did. "I have spent countless hours and dollars working to improve my education from the time I became a professional. Learning never stops and I have always remained very dedicated and committed to growth wherever I could find it. To this day, I am more hungry to learn and be the best that I can be. My business got started when I took a job riding young horses for a breeder, the late Charlene Summers of Summervale Farm. 15 years later a business partner and I were able to purchase the farm from Charlene when she was ready to retire. We have now owned and operated Summervale Premier Dressage as owners for the past 6 years."
As if it wasn't impressive enough that Jennifer has been riding since she was 3... she has her own business too! We had to ask her, how is it that she's able to balance being a businesswoman and such a competitive rider at the same time? She told us, "This business is not for the faint of heart. I struggle to balance the business side and the equestrian side. I love to ride and spend time with my horses but I am also I mother of two small children who are the light of my life. I still have many nights a week where I am up to the wee hours of the night catching up on billing, answering emails and sales questions, and editing videos and photos for the website. "
We are so impressed! With Jennifer's dedication to her business and her family, we know that there's a whole lot of passion involved in everything that she does, even when things get hard. We asked Jennifer, how does she stay motivated in such a difficult sport? "Everyday there is a moment in the work where the horse and I get a glimpse of what the next piece of the puzzle is going to be. A special feeling of expression or activity or lift in the shoulder and I think 'oh yes I want more of that.' I look forward to seeing my equine partners every day and we work hard for each other. When things don’t go as well as I would like in the show ring I am more motivated and disciplined than ever to fix my shortcomings and get better. When I do well and everything works and the horse and rider move as one there is no better feeling. So it is win-win in my book."
Jennifer's attitude is certainly inspiring! We are big fans of this kind of attitude -- it's the kind that will get you where you want to be. That's what we've seen with Jennifer, too. She also told us about her most influential horse, one that had an attitude to match her own eager self. She said, "That is a really tough question. Every horse has such a special place in my heart and has advanced my career or helped me in some monumental way. Perhaps it was HS Wistar as he was my first horse I trained to GP from a baby and he helped really develop my name in the sport. He allowed me to work with top professionals and travel to Europe to train. I may not have had the horses that came after him without that experience and time with him. "
Being avid riders, we at Equivont have experienced first-hand how in this sport the learning truly never ends, just as Jennifer mentioned earlier. She also adds in some more wise words, of which she says is the biggest life lesson that she's had from her life with horses. "Patience and dedication. The more I learn the more I realize how much I don’t know. That never stops with these incredible animals."
Finally, we asked Jennifer what her advice would be to other equestrians that are wanting to start their own business. She said, "I think it is important to go in with eyes wide open. Like any business you are the result of the work you put in. It is long hours and hard work and the sum of many highs and lows but you don’t get into this line of work for the money usually. You get into it for the passion and the love of the horses. As you advance your knowledge and skills you have opportunities to make a better income and attract better horses into your program. My advice it to always be direct and set clear expectations at the beginning of your client relationships. Always have integrity in everything you do and do your best to provide the absolute best service you can to your customers and their horse." The wise words just keep coming!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with Equivont! Be sure to check out Summervale Premier Dressage for any beautiful dressage unicorns for sale!