Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jessica Interviewed for Eventing Nation

Check out this interview of Jessica Bortner-Harris by Eventing Nation, sponsored by Omega Alpha Supplements!

And Yet We Ride On

Rather than sitting and writing a whole new blog explaining what's been going on, I will let my Eventing Nation article explain...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


The dreams of little girls can be fuel for passions that grow into something huge.  Riding at Rolex seems to be a common dream among horse crazy girls, and as they grow up, some leave the sport all together and some keep digging in to make it happen.  It's not a dream for the faint of heart, and many do not make it.

To say that I am still a bit in awe that I am qualified is an understatement.  I came into Eventing later in life than many that ride at this level, but I immediately set my sights high.  Who would have known that finding that little redhead OTTB on the back side of Charles Town would have led me here?  Bug is more athletic than most horses I have met, but his heart is what makes him so special.  He loves his job and will do whatever I ask of him.  He is a once in a lifetime horse, and I cherish my time with him every day.  There is nothing like a Bug hug.

It is hard to believe that we are less than 4 months away from Rolex and all the excitement it brings.  Just typing that gives me butterflies.  I know that this horse and I have what it takes to make this happen, but I also know there is a lot of hard work ahead in the next few months.  

Many people keeping asking me how they can help make this experience successful.  The financial burden of competing in this sport and at such a high level is quite large.  Rolex, itself, is not that expensive to enter.  However, the road to Rolex is paved in gold, it seems.  

1.  Lessons, lessons, and more lessons are needed to make sure Bug and I are performing at our best.  
2.  There are many competitions between now and Rolex that Bug and I need to make sure we are fit and prepared.  Each event is a test to see how well we are performing and what needs to be worked on to make it even better.  This includes entry fees and the travel costs associated with it. 
3.  Veterinary work, bodywork, and correct shoeing to keep Bug feeling at his best.  This is a tough sport, and it asks a lot of the horses.  It is imperative that Bug is feeling in tip top shape.
4.  Every day tack, feed, etc expenses.  There always seems to be something needed!

I am not funded by big owners or family money.  Riding and teaching is my job, and those ebb and flow with the weather, economy, etc.  Being an underdog doesn't bother me.  I've been told plenty of times that I would never make it this far.  That just makes me want to dig in and fight harder.  

How can you help?

1. The biggest way to get involved is to join the Win the War Syndicate.  The syndicate includes Win the War (Bug) and an up and coming Zweibrucker gelding, Bishop de Selah.  Bishop definitely has the traits to follow in Bug's footsteps, so it made sense to match these two together in the syndicate.  The syndicate owns 49% of each horse, so one share includes 4.9% of Bug and 4.9% of Bishop.  The cost per share is $3,000 and it costs $3,000 per year as a maintenance fee.  The average cost to maintain an upper level horse alone is $30,000 a year.  I am responsible for half of their maintenance myself, and the other half falls to the syndicate.  

2.  Fundraisers.  If you have any ideas for fundraising, please let me know!  I have Rolex fundraiser t-shirts that can be ordered as well.

3.  Donations through American Horse Trials Foundation.  If you are interested in helping but don't want to buy into the syndicate, you can make a tax deductible donation through this organization.  If you are interested, please contact me, and I can tell you how to do it.

4.  If you live near me, take some lessons or send a horse for training!  I would love to make the money on my own.  :)  I also have a bunch of nice horses for sale.

This dream of mine is no small undertaking, but God has provided thus far.  

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New Beginnings

Time flies by and a lot of things change in my life, but the one constant is my drive to make my dreams happen.  

Welcome to my new blog!  I am making a lot of changes in my business outlook, so I felt it was appropriate to change the name from Rocky Start Stables (which will still be the name of our home farm) to JBH Eventing.  In this business, your name is your best advertisement, so I decided it was time for to attach my name to what I'm doing.  

Last year was, on the whole, a pretty pivotal year for me.  Bug and I finally completed not one but two CCI***.  As always, there are things I need to improve to be more competitive, but for our first two completions, I'll take it.  

Those completions have officially qualified us for Rolex 2016!  If all goes well this spring, Bug and I will be making the drive to KY the end of April.  This would mean the realization of a lifelong dream, and just writing about it both excites and terrifies me!  I can not thank God enough for bringing this amazing horse into my life.  Just being around him makes my heart smile.  

Along with some pretty big things going on with Bug last year, I had another blessing walk into my life in the form of a big, gangly grey horse.  Bishop de Selah is a young Zweibrucker gelding that stole my heart the minute I saw him with his previous owner (and one of my best friends), Autumn Grogan.  When Autumn and her hubby decided it was time to expand their family, I was given the chance to add this amazing boy to my "string."  He and I clicked immediately, as I seem to speak his quirky language.  Bishop went from barely being able to stay on a straight line to fences, to finishing up the year doing his first Training at VAHT.  This boy is the real deal, and I'm so excited to announce that he is being added to the Win the War Syndicate!  He and Bug will be my top competing kids in 2016.

Many may ask, what happened with Pine Island Girl, aka Ellie Mae?  I have made the difficult decision to keep her at home.  She has some struggles that we have been dealing with, and I feel that trying to compete her is just not fair to her.  I am praying that we can breed her again, as RSS Island Rendition (Twiggy!!!) is pretty darn fabulous.  My tentative plan is to breed her and use her for lessons, as she's got the best brain ever.  This mare is also one of touches my soul, and I would love to keep her around as long as she lives.  There's just something about her kind eyes, and giant lips and ears that makes my heart melt when she looks at me.

The other little child that stole my heart in 2015, Donovan (lovingly known as Baby D), showed that he has the brains and athleticism to be a pretty darn good event horse!  He's off doing some dressage right now, but I can't wait to have him back later this spring to take the eventing world by storm. 

I hope the year will be full of new prospects and the business growing and changing.

I am very thankful to all of those who are in my corner and keep kicking me in the pants.  

A huge shoutout to my sponsors, Hastilow USA, ThinLine, Omega Alpha, Snider's Elevator, and Equus Couture.  They keep myself and my horses looking and feeling great!!