RINGTOWN — Starting with her first word of “horse,” Jadyn Swaldi has had a passion for equestrianism.
The 14-year-old mounted a horse almost as soon as she could walk and her first competition was at the young age of five.
The young, but experienced equestrian was most recently crowned grand champion of the youth western division and reserve champion in open English division at the Nine Pines June Jubilee at Dream Park Gloucester County in New Jersey.
A daughter of Tom and Lori Swaldi, the Mount Carmel eighth-grader scored higher than 25 competitors in the youth western division, which is restricted to riders 18 and younger using a saddle with a horn.
She placed second in the open English division, which featured 27 riders of all ages and skill levels using a saddle without a horn.
“I think she was born with horses on her mind. She (has) never loved anything as much as she loves horses,” her mother recently commented. “We are in awe with how well she is doing.”
Scores at the competition were based on two classes: pleasure, during which only the horse is judged; and equitation, in which the rider’s skills are judged as the horse is guided through a course of jumps.
Lori said her daughter was slightly disappointed for coming in second, a sign of devotion to the sport, but also grateful for the kindness of Don and Wende Swartz, co-owners of Swartz Show Horses in Ringtown.
Jadyn often trains upward of eight hours a day at the 35-acre training facility in Ringtown, Lori said.
“I (had) no idea I would accomplish as much as I did in the pleasure world without this horse,” Jadyn stated in a Facebook post. “Thank you to the Swartz family for allowing me to feel like family and teaching me everything in and out of the barn.”
Jadyn’s love for horse riding is a trait learned from her mother. Growing up on a farm, Lori grew up around horses and had owned one until her 18-year-old daughter, Hailey, was born.
The relationship with the Swartz family began around 2000 when the Swaldi family moved to the area from Philadelphia and Lori began a therapeutic riding program with Wende and Don.
“I really thought it would be a hobby Jadyn would enjoy,” Lori said. “She loved horses since she was born.”
Jadyn first started competing around 5-years-old in showmanship in-hand, a class that requires the competitor be on the ground while leading a horse in-hand through a certain pattern. She moved onto showmanship and began jumping by the time she was 8.
Jadyn’s knowledge in the sport has continued to grow throughout the years. She recently attended an equestrian camp at Texas A&M University and will compete at the College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) in Asbury, New Jersey, in September.
The CPI offers young equestrians the opportunity to explore the college equestrian experience through a comprehensive education, competition and scholarship/community service program.
During the CPI event, athletes experience the college equestrian competition format and can explore an equestrian-focused college fair, attend educational presentations and take advantage of the opportunity for direct conversations with college admissions representatives and equestrian team coaches.
“I think she is always trying to do better and perfect herself,” Lori said. “It’s interesting to watch and I hope it continues to pan out for her. Who knows what’s going to happen, but we are just very proud of her.”