There Are No Shortcuts In Dressage

Jordyn Shaw – A Hard Working Student 

By Sarah Crampton

Jordyn Shaw is definitely not “most people.” When she learned of an opening for a working student position at a premier dressage facility, she jumped at the opportunity. She even finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting online in order to relocate to southern California and accept the position. 

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” 

The working student position was offered by Mette Rosencrantz, an internationally successful dressage trainer and rider, based at Arroyo Del Mar in Rancho Sante Fe, California. Arroyo Del Mar is an international premier boarding and training facility and is also home to the current Tokyo Olympic dressage champion, Steffen Peters. 

Jordyn explains, “A trainer in Washington that I rode with regularly saw that Mette was looking for a groom/working student to join her team. She passed on Mette’s contact information, and I interviewed for the position via email. Mette called a couple of references and made her decision based on those sources. The first time I met Mette in person was when I showed up in California with a truck full of my stuff after a two-day drive from Washington.” 

Mette comments, “I was in Wellington, Florida, and put an advertisement out that I was looking for a working student/groom. Jordyn was one of many who answered that ad. Through pictures, references, and knowing her trainer, I took a chance knowing that I could let her go as soon as she got here.” Mette adds, “Happy that I have her; now, I will never let her go.” 

Mette Rozencrantz and Working Student, Jordyn Shaw

But it’s not just by chance or luck that Jordyn ended up at Arroyo Del Mar; she is no stranger to hard work. There are no shortcuts in life, and there are no shortcuts in dressage. You have to put in the time in the saddle, study, observe, and learn. And then put it into practice. 

With total support from her parents, Jordyn started in the saddle very young with Susan Mayo in Denton, Texas, who breeds Egyptian Arabians. “Susan taught me what it means to truly work for what you want in life,” states Jordyn. “In my mind, Susan introduced me to the real horse world, because it’s more than just getting on a horse. It’s about the long days after school, the sweat from mucking stalls or scrubbing buckets, and the love for your horse.” Susan gave Jordyn her first horse, and she worked to pay her board.

Her family moved back to Washington, with two Arabians in tow. At Susan’s suggestion, Jordyn joined Pony Club and was introduced to dressage by Eileen Parent, a dressage trainer and instructor at Summerfield Farm in Ridgefield, Washington. At ten years old, Jordyn told Eileen she didn’t want to jump, she wanted to be a dressage rider. 

“Eileen took me seriously and helped me in every way possible. I was taken in by the entire barn family and was taught all the ins and outs of dressage and horses,” says Jordyn. “Eileen took me under her wing and developed me into the rider and horse woman I am today.”

Eileen comments, “Jordyn really concentrated on her position and equitation. She would follow directions and worked hard practicing what she learned in her lessons that she earned through work at the barn. She has competed through Intermediare I and earned her Bronze and Silver Medals. She’s quite industrious.”

Arriving at Arroyo Del Mar was exciting and at first overwhelming, but Jordyn is soaking it all in. “Back home, I was used to a very private and quiet ten-horse barn. Going from that to a top dressage facility with 68 stalls and Olympic-level athletes was a huge change for me.”

“Mette has made this place feel like home, and really gave me the opportunity to step up to the plate and take on the big responsibilities that come with her top-quality horses,” continues Jordyn. “Everyone at Arroyo Del Mar has welcomed me with open arms. It is so much fun to be able to watch and learn from all the great trainers, grooms, and staff at this facility. 

“Currently, there’s a total of seven trainers including Mette, and of course Steffen and Shannon Peters, who are the head of the team here at Arroyo. One of my favorite experiences so far is being able to sit at one of the arenas and see all of the wonderful riding, training, and teaching going on around me. It is so inspirational and motivating to have the encouragement of everyone and see all the top riding, making me want to improve myself every day. It was a really cool experience to be at Steffen’s barn when he was in the Olympics. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive for Steffen as a whole.” 

Jordyn states she does a bit of everything. As a groom, she is responsible for the health and care of Mette’s top horses and clients. This includes grooming, tacking, massaging, and walking all the horses throughout the day. In addition, Mette has given her the opportunity to ride some incredible horses to help continue her education as a rider and trainer. 

Mette comments, “When you have someone like Jordyn, it’s my job to make her the best she can and have her give 100%. The word ‘working student’ is also like an apprentice. And if you’re lucky enough to find someone that you can trust, teach, and run the business with, then you better take care of them. 

“For me, it’s teamwork,” Mette continues. “And now when my business is smaller, the team is really Jordyn and me. I want the working student to feel that it is our business and I will always try to let the working student feel how it is to run a business 24/7. I’m hoping that I can make the working student realize how important it is to be responsible, be on time, and work hard. Because that’s what we all do as professionals as well.”

Jordyn states, “When Mette is working out of town, I am handed the responsibilities of the business and have taken over riding and teaching while she is gone. I am considered Mette’s right-hand and help her with anything she needs related to the horse business. I am learning on some amazing horses here. 

“The main thing I have learned from working with Mette is that the little details make the biggest difference, whether it’s riding or grooming. Mette underlines the fact that the horses always come first, which is why the details are so important and are the reason we do everything the way we do. One of the biggest takeaways from my time with Mette is that being a professional in this business is only 10% riding, and 90% everything else. 

“When it comes to riding,” Jordyn continues, “the importance of having the horse truly into both reins and reactive to the aids is the baseline for all levels of riding. No matter the level of training, the goal for each one of these horses is to have them completely through and straight into both reins and 100% on the aids. This can range from the young horses that are still in training, to Mette’s upper-level show horses. 

Mette Rosencrant and Dzeko, her Oldenburg gelding after a ride at Thermal CDI3* 2020. Photo provided by: Sarah Hellner

“The horse must be reactive to your legs so that you can always think forward. This forward thinking allows you to push them into the connection, never pulling them back to the connection. These same small details carry over to the grooming side as well. Running your hand over each crevice of the horse on a daily basis gives you a good ‘normal’, that way you can catch anything that might be off the next day. All of these little details are the important parts of horsemanship and being a trainer, and they are what makes the horse business run. 

“My goal has been to become a professional trainer for years. However, that has slightly shifted since coming to work for Mette. My dream is still to ride in the Olympics one day, but I have also realized that there is so much more to being a professional than just being a top rider. 

“With Mette’s guidance I am realizing that my goal is to become a good horsewoman first, and a professional trainer on top of that. Here, the horses always come first. Every detail counts, and everything we do or say is always in the best interest of the horse. My goal is to be just as detail-oriented as Mette, while becoming a top trainer and getting the opportunity to work with some amazing horses and clients.” 

— Jordyn Shaw

Mette adds, “Jordyn in this case is the next generation. I hope that I will teach her the value of responsibility, honesty, hard work, and staying humble. What I do and have done my whole life has taken me a long way, and I hope Jordyn will do the same thing.” 

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