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Wed, 2012-06-20 11:59

Stars of the Month: Full Interview with Jordan Linstedt and Tullibards Hawkwind

Authored By: USEA
24-year-old Jordan Linstedt and her 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Tullibards Hawkwind jog up at their first Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Leslie Threlkeld/USEA Photo

We really enjoyed getting to know Jordan and Tullibards Hawkwind for their “Star of the Month” spotlight in the 2012 Rolex Feature Issue of Eventing USA. We did not have enough room to publish her entire interview in the magazine, however, so we’d like to share it with you here. Enjoy!

Jordan Linstedt, 24, and her 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse Tullibards Hawkwind, won the hearts of many during their first trip around Rolex Kentucky with their steady, quiet communication and endless smiles. Jordan has owned “Jack” for five years, and she says he is the most influential horse in her riding career thus far. She tackled her first Rolex “with the best partner I could ask for.” She had no expectations in terms of placing; she wanted learn as much as possible and walk away with a good experience, which is exactly what they did. Jordan and Jack jumped clear around their first Rolex cross-country course and finished this tough event in 27th place.

Post Rolex Reminisce
Leslie Threlkeld:Now that Rolex is said and done, how are you feeling?
Jordan Linstedt: It feels amazing! It feels surreal knowing that I completed Rolex, something that had been a dream for so long. Everyone told me to soak up as much as I could from the experience of being there. It is so hard to take it all in when you have worked so hard to get there and are so nervous for how it will turn out. I learned a ton and think I soaked up as much as I could, and now that it is over, I can look back and remember all the great things from the weekend.

I remember the first time I went to The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell Montana, it was the first time I saw an event that had an Advanced level and I thought to myself, “I could never do that.” Little did I know, not too many years later it would be my first Advanced horse trials with Jack. I feel very accomplished that I have completed one of my long term goals. It took Jack and me six years to prepare for Rolex.

I am happy to be home to my friends, family, and clients. Right now I am still getting back into the swing of things and preparing for the show season in Area VII. It is great to be home although I am missing all the wonderful friends I made along the way to Rolex.

LT:Are you pleased with your results and the way you and your horse competed? Is there anything you might have done differently?
JL: I am absolutely thrilled with my results. Completing the weekend was my goal and to have accomplished that my first year there feels great. I do not think there is anything I would have done differently. I went to Rolex not setting any high standards for Jack and me, which in the end helped my nerves and made the end result that much more rewarding. I felt the most relaxed of any competition I have competed, which is hard to believe because this was the biggest event in the U.S. I am so happy with the weekend, and I think I am still smiling from when I came out of show jumping.

LT:What is the most important thing you took away from the Rolex experience?
JL: Experience. I went to Rolex with the mindset that I wanted to take in as much as I could and use my first time there as a learning experience for the future. In the future I will go to Rolex to be competitive, but this year was about gaining the experience I need for the future. I was as successful this year as I could have ever hoped, and in the years to come I hope to be successful in a more competitive way. Since I am still young I have more experience to gain, and that comes from time.

LT:What is the next step in your journey? Where do you hope it will lead you?
JL: The next step in my journey will be getting Jack prepared for the CIC3* at Rebecca Farms in Montana. He currently is having a month to just hang out and be a horse in his field. I want to give him time to recuperate physically as well as mentally from such a huge task. If I do not feel like he is ready or fit enough for Rebecca Farms, then we will shoot for the CIC3* at Woodside and then the CCI3* at Galway Downs in November. In order to prepare for Rolex next year I need to re-qualify since my two CIC three-stars are from 2010. I would love to come back to Rolex next year and be able to be more competitive, but we will take one step at a time. It is hard to plan too far out because you never know what will happen in the next year. I hope that my journey eventually leads me to representing the United States in team competition at the Pan American Games, World Equestrian Games, and the Olympic Games. I have a younger horse named Revitavet Capato that is currently at the Intermediate level and I hope will be ready for Rolex in two years. He is extremely talented and equally great at all three phases. I think he could be a team horse and will be very competitive at the three- and four-star level, but time will tell.

Phase by Phase
What were your thoughts on your dressage? How did it feel riding into that arena?
JL: Before the weekend a lot of people asked me what I was the most excited for and my answer was dressage. I think I was the most excited for dressage because it was the first part of the competition and the first time I would be in the Rolex Arena. I was pleased with my test because it was so amazing to have completed the first phase at Rolex although I had hoped it would score better. Jack and I had a few mistakes that we normally do not make. He broke to his canter in his extended trot and was over responsive in his last two changes. Typically those two movements are his best so it was a bit of a bummer to lose points on some of his best things. Jack was definitely tenser than I was going into the ring. I cannot believe how calm I was for how many people were watching. The only thing I was nervous about was that I was going to forget my test. After completing dressage I was so happy that I did not even care about the few mistakes!

LT: After walking the cross-country, did you feel like your time in Florida with Leslie Law sufficiently prepared you for the task ahead?
JL: My time in Florida riding with Leslie Law definitely was the best thing I could have done for Jack and me. With Leslie’s expertise, the humidity, heat, difficulty of events, and terrain on the East Coast definitely helped get Jack fit and prepared for Rolex.

LT:Did you feel like Jack was fit enough? How about your own fitness? What did you do to prepare?
JL: I feel that Jack was as fit as I could have gotten him. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I was doing as much as I could to prepare him. My fitness was great, other than riding I was running every day in Florida to keep up my cardio. Even though toward the end of the course I felt tired, I think I was well prepared. Jack is a tough ride because he is very much a kick ride so it takes a lot of energy to get him around.

LT:You incurred time penalties on cross-country, but you seemed content at your pace. What was your strategy on cross-country?
JL: Jack is 17.3hh and was the biggest horse at Rolex by a large margin. He typically has time penalties and has a hard time with his fitness. I did everything I could to ensure he was as fit as I could get him including traveling to Florida, galloping, and swimming along with all the hard rides and long walks.  My strategy for the course was to let Jack settle into the gallop that he was comfortable with and not push him past it. I knew I had to come out of the start box and still attack the course. I knew I could not use him up to early. I think after the first water complex at fence five was where we got into our groove and that steady pace. From there I kept him the same until the end. I also took a few of the options to make Jack’s job easier and give us the best chance possible to jump a clear round. Especially toward the end where I could feel him getting tired I had no desire to push him, so I took the long routes to get him home safe.

LT:How did you react when you finished cross-country?
JL: After Jack and I got through the Head of the Lake I knew I was going to be able to get him to the finish. Every fence that I got closer to the finish I could not believe that we were going to complete our first Rolex cross-country. It was not that I did not think we were capable but that it was such a big step up from where we were, and there was so much terrain compared to other events I had run at the three-star level. When I came through the finish my sister, family, friends, my groom Nicolette, trainers, and vets were all there to greet us. My sister Markelle said that my mouth was just dropped open…I could not even speak.  I remember her even telling me to smile. After I gave everyone hugs and took care of Jack it hit me that I had completed the second phase at Rolex, and I was in tears. I just kept hugging and kissing Jack and telling him what a good boy he was.

LT:What were your feelings being the first one in the show jumping ring on Sunday?
JL: I was a little nervous being the first one to jump on Sunday. Although once it came time for me to go I did not mind. Being the first one possibly kept me from getting nervous because I could not wait around and watch others go. Being able to watch the course ride a few times before going in would have been nice. I was a little concerned with the last line. It was a slight bending line that walked in a forward seven or a tight eight. Jack can have a small stride at times so I was worried on how to ride it. Although once he was in the ring and jumping, I felt like his stride was quite open and that the seven would be no problem.

LT:How did the crowds affect you and your horse? Positively, negatively, or not at all?
JL: I cannot believe it but the crowds really did not affect me. I had a ton of people tell me that they would, but I was so focused on Jack that I never even noticed the people. The only place throughout the weekend that I started to notice the crowd was toward the end of the cross-country. At the Normandy Bank I heard two ladies from my cheering crowd, and I looked over and smiled. Then at fence 26 [Wattle and Daub Cottage], I heard my brother Tyler yell! In dressage and stadium I saw the crowds but never let them affect my performance. I think they made Jack a little tenser then they did me.

About Jordan and Jack
Where did you find Jack? Describe how your partnership has grown over the years.
JL: One of my close friends (and like a big sister to me) Michelle Mayo had imported Jack from Ireland as a jumper. At the time, we were riding together with a jumper trainer and legend in our area named Robert “Bob” Woodington. My first impression of Jack was that he was not anything spectacular. There was a lot of buildup on him when Michelle first imported him as a resale prospect, and I did not find him very impressive. As she continued to ride him I started to see more of his valuable qualities. Eventually, Bob told me that I was out-riding the potential of my off-the-track Thoroughbred that I had brought up through the levels to Preliminary. If I wanted to continue through the levels I would need to start thinking about another horse. This was when Bob suggested that I try Jack. My first thought was “Jack?...Really?” Bob assured me that he was good enough on the flat and that he would improve with time. He was an incredible jumper and extremely bold, so I gave it a shot. After the first time I tried him I knew that he was the next horse I had to have. I felt like I could do anything on him; there was instantly an incredible bond between the two of us. Todd Trewin went with me to look at Jack. He told me that there would be many horses in my riding career and that Jack was the next one on my path to the upper levels. At this point, my parents, Gary and Barbara Linstedt, had to figure out [how we could afford Jack] and what we would do with my Preliminary horse, Theo. Michelle remembers my dad telling her, “I am not sure how we are going to do this, but when your little girl has a dream, how do you not help her achieve it?” We sold Theo and [were able to purchase Jack].

Jack and I started our eventing career together the summer of 2006 at the Training level in Area VII. From the beginning it was not all easy. Jack and I had to spend a lot of time on the dressage work. He was extremely stiff and out of practice. It has taken us a long time to get the dressage where it is today. If he does not get tense we can put in a pretty competitive dressage score; he is a great mover and very correct. We had some ditch and trakehner problems that were soon resolved with countless schooling sessions. After that we continued to climb through the levels until we needed a change for some consistent help with the next step being the Advanced Level. At this time, I moved to Temecula, California to work for Tamra Smith. I assisted Tamie for almost two years, and she helped prepare Jack and I for Advanced and the CIC3* level. I am currently back home in Redmond, Washington at my parents facility Saddle Rock Stables, LLC where I run a large training program.

LT:What is Jack’s personality like?
JL: Jack has a wonderful sweet disposition. He is the most gentle and kind horse I have ever worked with, especially for his size. He is extremely smart and athletic and tries his heart out all the time. This was clearly shown in Kentucky last month; everything I asked him to do he gave me 100 percent. The only time he would not do something for me would be if he did not think he physically could, which is what makes him so extremely smart. He has a huge amount of self-preservation and is always looking out for the two of us. He would do anything I ask him as long as he knew he could.  At times he can be grumpy, but it is normally out of jealousy of my other horses. Jack knows he is the main horse at my barn so if he is not ridden first he gets very jealous.

LT:What is the most important thing horses have taught you? What is the most important thing Jack has taught you?
JL: Growing up with horses I learned so many things at an early age including responsibility, dedication, determination, work ethic, and independence. Each horse I have worked with has taught me something different. The most important thing Jack has taught me is determination. I knew from when I first rode him that we were going to accomplish great things and that he just had to be my next horse. Many people in my community and even within my barn thought that I had made a huge mistake and that he would never be an FEI horse, let alone get to the top level of eventing. I thought differently and was determined to prove them wrong. It has not been easy, but I have put everything I have into Jack to be able to achieve these goals together. Determination was definitely a huge factor in being successful at Rolex.

LT:Do you participate in any activities or hobbies besides horses?
JL: I grew up playing basketball in school. My dad was 6’6” and played basketball at the University of Washington. He always wore number 32 on his basketball uniform number. I always wore his number in honor of him when I played basketball, too.  I was amazed when I was given rider number 32 the first day at Rolex. I knew it was going to be a great event; my dad is my biggest fan!  Basketball was always a huge part of my childhood and my dad was often the coach. Once I got into high school, the school team as well as the select team was just too much to allow the time I needed and wanted in the saddle. So my sophomore year I gave up basketball and focused all my time into riding. My dad was supportive. I love just about all outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and running. The hardest thing is finding the time to do things other than riding. My boyfriend, John, and I have quads and dirt bikes that we take to the sand dunes, and we trail ride when we can find the time. That is probably one of our favorite things to do. My other passion is cooking. I love to cook for my friends and family. I attend the University of Washington as a junior this year. My major is Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior.  


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