ST. JOHN | Jordan Olson puts her 13-year-old solid sorrel Appaloosa gelding, He’s Perfect Vision, through his paces in the indoor training ring at Red Oaks Ranch at Dyer.
The two 13-year-olds have been a team since Jordan was 7, and together have won top prizes in major local, regional, state and national competitions.
To be such an accomplished equestrian at this young age puts the St. John resident in a class of her own, said Thad Nymeyer, owner of Red Oaks Ranch, 8795 Sheffield Ave.
“She was just a half-pint when she started riding horses,” Nymeyer said. “I dare say you could paper this room (the large warming room) or a horse stall with all her ribbons.”
The younger daughter of Mark and Lori Olson, Jordan followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Morgan, who is 11 months her senior and who owns Cooper, another Appaloosa.
“My sister was taking riding lessons. I decided I wanted to try it and started my lessons a month after her,” Jordan said.
The request from the then-6-year-old surprised her family, Lori Olson said.
“Jordan was in soccer, but as soon as she saw Morgan on a horse, she decided that was what she wanted to do,” Lori Olson said.
The halter horse, known by his stable name Vision, came into Jordan’s life in 2007. The seventh-grade honor student at Clark Middle School in St. John “has turned him into a phenomenal show horse,” her mother said.
“He was a World Champion halter horse as a yearling. He was trained under saddle when she got him, but he was overweight and out of shape.”
Jordan rides and trains with Vision for a few hours three to six days a week all year.
“She is also the only one who rides the horse and trains him, which is very uncommon for someone at her level of competition,” Lori Olson said as both Jordan and Morgan worked out with their horses in the ring.
Jordan trains with a riding coach, Jennifer Lindgren, to perfect her skills.
She puts those skills to the test at frequent competitions during the summer.
Jordan and Vision compete on both the regional level of open shows, which are open to any breed in various disciplines and classes that may or may not be restricted by age of the rider.
They also participate in the regional Appaloosa Circuit throughout Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. These are considered A-rated shows and are restricted to only registered Appaloosas, Lori Olson said.
“In both 2011 and, most recently in 2012, Jordan and Vision won first place in this program in the category of English Pleasure. Their official term for winning the title is the ACAAP Master Award for the year,” she said.
Jordan and Vision also compete in over fences, western pleasure and 4-H contests. They finished in the top five in the ACAAP in all three categories.
“It is very unusual for a horse to excel at multiple disciplines,” Lori Olson said.
In addition, the pair has finished in the National Top Ten in the Appaloosa Circuit in the category of Youth Western Horsemanship 12 & Under.
“We would like to take both girls and their horses to the Youth World Championships, which are held in Tulsa in July. However, Morgan's high school sports and the expense of traveling have not allowed us to participate in that event just yet,” Lori Olson said.
A shy, soft-spoken girl, Jordan lights up when talking about Vision and her hopes for her equestrian career.
“I’d like to go to the Olympics in 2020,” she said with a broad smile.
When her mother reminded her that Vision will be a bit long of tooth for that contest, Jordan said, “I won’t give him up (for another horse in competition.”
Asked why she chose Vision as her horse, the teenager quickly answered, “He trusts me.”