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Now only twelve, Jayson Henri has already won the first three FEI Competitions for Children in reining and has also achieved wins at various national and international championships.
His father Bertrand was an accomplished rider who enjoyed reining, so it was natural to get his son involved too. Jayson had a pony named Poly, who he used to do barrel racing and pole bending events with. Bertrand gave Jayson his horse, Hangten, when Jayson was 7. As Jayson says ‘my father did reining and I wanted to be just like him’, so he started competing Hangten in sprint and reining events…with more success than anyone could have imagined.
When asked what achievement he is most proud of, Jayson (quite rightly!) struggles to choose just one. He lists some of his proudest moments as winning three CRI children’s competitions, retaining his top spot on the European circuit, winning various large international and national championship titles, and also mentions that he is incredibly proud to be coached by Alexander Ripper and Franck Perret.
Naturally, with such a demanding schedule, Jayson and his family have had to make some adjustments to make sure he completes his school commitments and can still compete regularly. His family have invested a lot of time and money into travelling for competitions and making modifications to their farm to allow him the luxury of riding and competing. Jayson appreciates that, but says he would love to be able to go on holiday more often – but you can’t have it all!
In addition, Jayson’s school is accommodating and allows him to send his homework via email when he’s busy competing, but he says that he has to be very disciplined and organised to make sure that he can fit everything in.
Aside from learning discipline and self-motivation, Bertrand says that horses have taught Jayson “humility, confidence and, more precisely, the ability to manage the stress that competitions bring.’
He also believes that learning to be humble in both victory and defeat is a skill and trait that will be useful later in professional life. Jayson isn’t just a talented rider, he’s good at athletics too! He’s even qualified for the national championships in high jump…maybe he should consider trying show jumping?
He tells his friends that he loves the adrenaline rush and that riding brings him huge pleasure and enjoyment. His goals are to become a professional rider one day, to always continue training tirelessly, and “to always be nice to my horses.” Clearly, his father has taught him well.
Bertrand himself says that he believes all children should practice a sport “for the mind and body.” However, he adds that horses possibly have some other added benefits including that they need to learn communication skills, the ability to cope with both good and bad times and learn to manage different horses dependent on their different characters and physical abilities. He says you need almost a “psychic” connection with the horse to make sure they can perform at their best.
We’re looking forward to following the progress of this young rising star, and we’ve no doubt that with his discipline and passion, and the help of a supportive family, he will go on to achieve great things.
Text by Sophie Baker
Photography by Greg Niro (www.gregshorsedesign.com)