Q&A: Ellesse Jordan Gundersen
"Horses definitely teach us how to be patient, how to think outside the box, how to have humor and how to care for others."
Please introduce yourself.
Ellesse Jordan Gundersen, Dressage, Professional
What was your earliest encounter with horses?
When I was just 3 years old my father rescued an ex-race horse. That was what started our family involvement with horses.
What has been the most unexpected challenge in your training?
Something I find most challenging is learning when to give myself credit. I am constantly very hard on myself and want everything to be perfect but I have to remind myself that it is ok if not everything is perfect and to stop and tell myself that everything is going the right way!
Was there ever a time that you considered leaving the sport?
Yes, more than once but I think that shows how extremely passionate I am about the sport. This sport is a never ending journey of learning and improving and finding out how to make it work for you as you.
What is your horse's favorite treat or snack?
My horses love carrots, apples and bananas.
What has been the greatest act of kindness you’ve received from another rider?
One of the highest ranked riders in the world sat down and took the time (for no reason lol) to talk me through life and the sport and family etc. To this day it was one of the most influential conversations I have ever had and it happened casually over lunch, totally organic and unplanned for.
What do you think is the most important (or underrated) riding exercise? What is your favorite exercise? And what exercise is most difficult?
Most important- transitions. Favorite- riding the centerline and feeling if your horse is straight, between your leg and hand evenly, and balanced. My most difficult exercise- pirouettes. One day they will be my best lol
What has been one of your most humbling moments with horses?
For some reason when I was around horses while pregnant it was very humbling. Each of my horses acted very differently towards me... they definitely new I was pregnant and were so so gentle around me.
In what ways do you believe riding horses has informed your personal life and behavior?
I think horses have taught me a lot in life and shaped how I am in life. Horses definitely teach us how to be patient, how to think outside the box, how to have humor and how to care for others.
Do you have any superstitions around shows?
I put my left boot on first. My husband started it and now I have to do it lol
What is the most courageous thing you’ve done — on or off a horse?
I think that being truly present and truly willing to try everyday should be called a courageous act!
What inspires you to continue to learn within the sport?
The horses. Always the horses.
When you’re not riding, you can be found doing…?
Working at our company Horse Gym USA and hanging out with my son and my family.
Is there a movement, organization, or cause that you are involved with?https://www.petpocketbook.com/
I try to each year support an organization dedicated to programs where horses help humans with therapy. (For example, Giant Steps).
In one or few words, what does horse riding mean to you?
Horse riding is a practice :) where mind, body and heart come together with an animal to create beauty and sport.