Alexis Ortiz rode to a top 25 finish in the ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals in 2019. Photo Shawn McMillen
St. Charles, IL - February 24, 2020 - Off of the USHJA Gold Star Clinic East in West Palm Beach, Alexis Ortiz admits that every day in the barn is a lesson and she is inspired daily by the education and opportunities that have come her way because of her hard work. Ortiz, 17, is a working student at Kinvarra Farm where she trains with Ryan and Janet Sassmannshausen in St. Charles, Illinois. Because of her dedication and work ethic in addition to always being prepared, Ortiz has had opportunities to ride and show numerous horses when the budget would never allow for that. Alexis Ortiz rode with clinician Todd Minikus at the USHJA Gold Star Clinic East. Photo Marketing4Equestrians
Ortiz comes from an extremely supportive, hardworking, Midwest family who could never afford a string of horses and practice horses that is often required to make it to the top. Her family has made many sacrifices over the years to contribute to Alexis' passion for horses. Her love for the barn started very early on when she would finish her lesson and ask if there was anything else she could do to help out. She would pitch in sweeping the aisles, cleaning tack or helping to ride the schooling ponies. Now she gets to help exercise hunters, jumpers and equitation horses at home and recently at WEF, she has been catch-riding horses and earning many top ribbons in the show ring.
“I started helping around the barn because I wanted to learn everything I could about all aspects of the industry, not only the riding side but the barn management side as well,” explained Ortiz.
Ortiz added that being a working student has helped her see the industry from a completely different perspective. Hard work in the barn brings knowledge and extra horses to ride for Alexis Ortiz. PC Marketing4Equestrians
“I realized that so much work goes into everything and most people don’t even realize what happens before they arrive at the barn. From preparing horses at shows to carefully tweaking their diets to fit their needs, many tasks go unnoticed but remain important. Kinvarra’s attention to detail is inspiring and has motivated me to incorporate that attention to detail in my own riding and horse care. I’ve learned about vet and farrier care, young horses, feed programs, training and so much more,” added Ortiz.
“Alexis [Ortiz] is one of the hardest-working kids I know,” said Janet Sassmannshausen. “We all learn something new every day, myself included, and she shows up ready to go on a daily basis. It’s fun to work with her because she’s always willing.”
Although Ortiz only owns one horse, Little Paul, she’s had the experience of riding other horses and schooling with some great trainers because she puts in the work and makes herself available. Ortiz adds she feels she is already interning for a future job in horses. She gets to meet new people and make connections for the future and every day is a chance to learn. She always has her show clothes on hand and has shown horses in under saddles for other owners, jogged, and has shown at WEF. At Kinvarra Farm, there is a huge focus on developing young horses, which is something that Ortiz has found a passion for after watching the process.
“I know that my future will involve horses in some capacity, whether it be as a professional or an amateur,” said Ortiz. “In a perfect world, I would love to own a business breeding and starting young horses while also continuing my own riding career at a higher level. If I choose a different career path and end up only having time to ride as an amateur, I hope to focus on creating opportunities for talented and hardworking riders that don’t have the financial means to compete.” Alexis Ortiz with trainers Ryan and Janet Sassmannshausen in the winner's circle for the 2019 IHJA Junior Medal Finals. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography
In the tack, Ortiz has added some great victories to her resume including:
Alexis Ortiz and her catch-ride accepting their award in the Junior Hunters 3'3" in the International Ring at WEF. Photo Marketing4Equestrians.
- a top 25 finish in the 2019 Maclay Medal Finals
- a Zone 4 Maclay Regionals 10th place finish in 2018
- 2018 NCEA Midwest Championship Winner,
- an 8th place finish in the North American Junior Equitation Challenge in 2019
- 2019 Illinois Hunter Jumper Association (IHJA) Junior Medal Finals winner
- 2019 IHJA 15-17 Equitation Champion
- 2019 IHJA Children’s Jumpers Champion
- 2019 IHJA Child Adult Jumper Challenge Winner
Ortiz accomplished all her success while doing her own work and being her own groom. Ortiz also earned the IHJA Scholarship which will help her out as she heads to Texas A&M, where she will compete on the NCAA Equestrian Team while studying Animal Science and Business. Alexis Ortiz was presented with the IHJA Scholarship.
“Riding at the collegiate level has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl riding ponies and I am so glad that I reached that goal. The collegiate format is really new and interesting to me and I am so excited for a new challenge in my riding,” said Ortiz.
“I would definitely give credit to every
trainer that has been involved in my riding career, as I believe I have learned something from everyone, but I would credit most of my success to the Sassmannshausens. Not only have they taught me almost everything I know about riding and horse care, but also they have become family and that is really special to me. Obviously, I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have had without my parents’ hard work and support, which I am also very thankful for,” gushed Ortiz.
Ortiz summarized, “I would just like to add that everything is possible with hard work and dedication! It is easy to get wrapped up in the thought that riding is an elitist sport, however, I along with many others, are proof that it is possible to be successful even if you don’t have 5 horses and show every weekend. There is always someone willing to reward a rider for their hard work, you just have to put in the effort and stay focused on your goals.” Summer Hill, Avery Moore and Alexis Ortiz participate in a press conference as the Team Competition winners in the Gold Star Clinic East. Photo Marketing4Equestrians