Immanuela de Jong, Student & Jumper Rider

Your Name and Occupation: Immanuela de Jong, I’m still a student.

Where do you live (country & city): All the way in The Netherlands!

Out of all of the horses you have met in Who is/was your heart horse: That will absolutely be Victory P.R.; she is now a 5-year-old. She is a 17.22 hand mare. And she is a French trotter!

When did you meet your heart horse, and how old were you: I met Victory just two and a half years ago when I was19 years old. I needed a new horse for college (Horse related school).

It was really hard on me because, unfortunately, I had lost my first horse only a month earlier. I looked at many different show jumpers, but no horse was the right match for me.

So I kept searching.

On the day that we looked at Victory, we also had to see another horse. Suddenly out of the blue, the visit was canceled. So we went to see Victory instead.

And that’s how I found my Heart Horse.

What was/is he/she like: When we looked at Victory, she was only 3 years old and still looked very much like a baby. So, we decided to let her run in the indoor arena to look at all her gaits. She was bucking around but was very interested in checking us out and seemed like a happy horse. She had no muscle at all, was still pretty small in stature, and had never been ridden but, after seeing her move in the indoor arena, she walked right up to me and decided to stand next to me. She wanted me to cuddle her.

That was when I fell right in love.

What made him/her your heart horse? I think it’s because of our story.

When I brought her home to our stable, people told me I couldn’t ride her and I chose the wrong horse. She was the wrong age; she was ugly and wouldn’t become a riding horse that could jump.

The list went on and on.

But I decided I wanted to work with her, and I knew that she needed time, and I gave it to her.

I knew that because she was still young. I didn’t expect her to be able to do everything.

We worked on groundwork, tricks, and I slowly started to ride her.

It was a struggle many times, and it was hard, but to me, in the end, it was all worth it.

I hate to see when other people buy and sell horses quickly, while it obvious it takes a long time before you can really become a good team.

I believe when you don’t really know a horse, you can’t ask that horse, a horse you barely know, to ride a perfect course. That is a high expectation.

It should take years to become a team, and the goal is to create a real bond.

I have now owned for Victory for 2.5 years, and I feel like I know her so well. I know right away what she wants and what she doesn’t want. I am also the only person who really trains her, so she is really taught in my way, and because of that, we are totally in sync.

How did your heart horse change your life: After losing my previous horse, she made my life light up again. She is so joyful and happy. I don’t look at life in the same way, and she has made my life better for it.

Can you tell me when you knew this was your heart horse: It came to me just out of the blue.

It was a typical day at the stable. I watched Victory, and she was running around in the paddock, jumping and bucking around just because she just wanted to.

So, I decided to film her showing off and doing all of these tricks.

While I was filming, I was thinking about the horse I wanted when I was a kid. I always wanted a simple brown horse (because I love brown horses.) that was young would have incredible energy and a happy disposition to train myself.

I never wanted a perfect school horse that already knew everything and was a “push-button.”

And that day, when I was watching Victory, I realized my dream came true. I found my dream horse.

Can you tell me your best memory: Oh, I have too many.

We went for a trail ride in another city, and she was perfectly behaved. A train would pass by every now and then, and she didn’t spook once.

We went to many competitions and even when it was new to her she did terrifically.

I remember the first time we cantered. That was a great moment too.

Even simply riding her in the indoor arena, and cantering with all the horses - and so were we. I suddenly had the realization, and it hit me that she simply just started cantering, and we didn’t have to work so hard at it till it finally worked.

Every little thing she does makes life better.

Last week we rode a whole jumping course, and I was so proud of her.

Also, because people never believed that we could get where we already are. People told me to stop and buy another horse, and now people tell me that she looks like a different horse.

When I hear that, it makes me so very proud.

Can you tell me your worst memory: There was a time when I was teaching her too much too soon.

So she let me know by rearing up, which she used too many times.

That was a bad time.

I was afraid to walk with her because she would decide to stop walking and would rear up out of the blue.

She once hit my hand with her hoof. I never wanted to punish her because she thought it was a trick.

So I decided to teach her groundwork, adding on different things with the hope to get her to stop rearing up.

It worked! And now she responds so well to every trick I have taught her.

We also have had a lot of terrible riding days.

Once I decided to jump off because there were many people next to the arena and judging me, my riding, and my horse non-stop. Those were terrible moments.

I hate it that I really let other people influence me and make me feel bad. Victory was still so young at the time, but now she has really become such a fantastic horse to ride!

I think if everything goes perfectly all the time, then horse riding would actually be just dull.

Can you tell me what heart horse means to you: She means everything to me. She makes my life better. I always hear from people how much we look alike, and we are of the same character.

She will always stay with me. She is my best friend.

Thank you!