A Day in the Life of Jessica Leto

Jessica Leto is a professional rider who runs JS Equine Ventures, LLC, a boutique sales and training operation based in Wellington, FL, with her partner Stephen Hirsh. Jessica graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Sports Administration and Business. Currently, Jessica competes at the five-star level with her mount Cimbura and also works with Stephen to maintain a strong group of hunter, jumper, and equitation sales horses. She takes particular pride in managing her business with a hands-on approach, investing time attending to all aspects of her horses’ care and training.

Keep reading for a behind-the-scenes look at a day in this professional rider’s life at the HITS Saugerties Horse Show Week VIII in Saugerties, NY, during the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

5 a.m.

I’m typically an early riser so my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I like to make sure I have time in the morning so I don’t have to rush. I drink my coffee while thinking about my plan for the day and getting any administrative work for the business done while it’s fresh in my mind.

6:30 a.m.

I walk Monday, my Jack Russell terrier, and feed her breakfast before heading to the show. We also have a German shepherd named Cali, but we find it hard to bring her everywhere as not all Airbnb options at shows are pet friendly.

7 a.m.

I get to the show, feed the horses, and help clean stalls. I also do other morning chores such as recording temperatures for the FEI horses and checking the legs and backs of all the horses. I’m very hands-on, as is Stephen, so every morning we like to take time to check for anything out of the ordinary in all our horses’ bodies. We look for both skin issues and areas of soreness from training or competition then take that into account when making our plan for the day. My horse Cimbura, or “Cimba,” gets his magnetic massage blanket every morning while eating breakfast to help warm up and relax his muscles before being ridden.

8 a.m.

I have two horses in FEI at this show. My morning is spent focusing on working them both. I am showing Cimba in the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix later today. My horse Frosty HD, or “Frosty,” is done showing for the week. I ride Frosty first, and he gets to be a bit of a practice horse to help me prepare for the class later today. I focus on myself and play over some poles to get my eye working. Stephen gives me feedback on what he sees from the ground. I also do a bit of no-stirrup work to warm up my leg muscles. During this time my FEI groom is hand walking Cimba and cleaning him up so I can ride him around 10:30.

Jessica Leto and Cimba competing at HITS Saugerties. Photo by ESI Photography

10:30 a.m.

When I flat Cimba I like to take my time and give him a long warm-up walk because he is a very high-energy horse. I do some transitions and lateral work to make sure all the buttons are working for the class this afternoon. My flatwork is based on how my horse feels after his classes from earlier in the week, how I want him listening, and how I want him energy wise for peak performance. I usually flat Cimba for about 45 minutes to an hour but today is a little chilly so I give myself some extra time in case he feels frisky.

12 p.m.

At this time the horses get lunch and Cimba gets ice boots and relaxes for a bit before his class. I also get lunch and some coffee. I make sure all my equipment and pre-show preparations are in order and being done on time.

1:30 p.m.

I walk the grand prix course and go over the plan in detail for the first round and jump-off with Stephen. I go later in the order so I choose a few riders who may have a similar course plan or a similar-strided horse to watch in the lineup. Then during the opening ceremonies, I take a walk wearing my headphones and listen to some inspiring or energy-lifting music. I give Cimba one last check over at his stall and make sure he has what he needs before getting into my head space for competition.

2:30 p.m.

The first horse is on course. Will Simpson was first in the order, and he was clear. Amanda Derbyshire and Hunter Holloway also go clear before I even get on my horse.

3:30 p.m.

So far, only three of the 20 or so combinations have put in a clear round within the allotted time. I do the boot check with FEI stewards and then my groom helps me with a leg up. I usually get on and warm up when I am around 10 horses out. I start jumping around four or five out. We do not do too many jumps, just a few fences to get Cimba’s legs warmed up and his eyes open and thinking. Then we head into the ring to pre-load and give him a little tour before the start buzzer sends us off to try our luck at the track that has shown itself to be pretty difficult this afternoon.

We jump clear and within the time allowed to become the fourth and final combination to qualify for the jump-off.

Jessica Leto and Cimba after earning fourth in the CSI5* $405,300 Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of Jessica Leto

4:00 p.m.

I return last for the jump-off, which is prime real estate since I’ll know how the other riders have done and what time I’ll need. Will and Amanda are fast, but both have a rail. Hunter goes before me and puts in a swift clear round so now I know I have to be fast and clear. Cimba and I were fast but had eight faults. We end up fourth, and we’re all very happy with the result and how Cimba jumped. Cimba and I get our ribbons and head in for the victory gallop. They play the “Top Gun: Maverick” theme song for the victory gallop, which I love.

4:30 p.m.

I got to attend my first press conference and sit among top riders to discuss our jump-off and what we thought of the class.

5 p.m.

Cimba got a bath, ice boots, and bandages while I was at the press conference. I am very into our feed program, so I make all the horses a celebratory bran mash with apples and bananas. I spend some time discussing my round and enjoying the results of the day with our team and horses before heading to get some Italian food. Monday gets to run loose and is very happy as well!

8 p.m.

Every evening we do night check to give hay, water, and take one more look at the horses before heading to bed. We also give them a lot of treats. It was a great day for our team, and I’m very proud of myself. Cimba is definitely one to remember!

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!


A Day in the Life of Stephanie Kramer

Stephanie Kramer works as a head groom for top amateur jumper rider Vanessa Hood and U.S. Olympian Kent Farrington. Keep reading for a day in Stephanie’s life at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week 5 during the CSI5* Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) Team Competition in Williamsburg, MI.

Friday, August 5, 2022

6 a.m.

My first alarm goes off around six in the morning when we are starting at the barn at seven. I like to give myself time in the mornings, so I don’t feel rushed or stressed starting out the day. I usually make myself a coffee to go and grab some sort of granola bar or something light to get my day started.

Photo by Boss Mare Media

7 a.m.

I have three horses in FEI this week. I have one horse showing in two-star classes and two horses competing at the five-star level. No matter how many horses I have showing every day starts the same. We begin by feeding hay, then grain, and then moving on to the chores. When I have horses showing, they wear the Sport Innovations magnetic blanket in the morning.

8 a.m.

Once chores are done, I start getting my horses out for a hand walk and some grass. One by one I groom them and hand walk or graze them for 15-20 minutes to let them stretch their legs before they go to work. Cascalretto is the only horse I have showing today in the MLSJ Team Competition at 5:30 so when I take the first horse out I put the magnetic blanket on him and set the program and massage to run as I walk the other horse.

11 a.m.

My two other horses, Easy Girl and Conner, aren’t showing today so they will just flat. Once Vanessa is ready to ride one, I pull them back out and fully groom them again. I start with a good curry, then a flick brush, and I finish with some Santa Fe spray and a soft brush to protect their coat from the sun and keep them nice and shiny. As they go out, I like to keep their stalls picked as well so they’re always coming back to a clean stall.

12 p.m.

We feed lunch hay and top off water buckets at noon. Since Cascalretto will not get ridden until later in the day, I take him out for another quick walk and some grass between the two others getting ridden. Cascalretto will also get a short flat to loosen up a bit before the class tonight. As the other two come back from being ridden they both go for baths and grass. Before going for grass, I like to bring them back to the barn and towel dry them, brush their manes down, and put conditioner in their tails if I washed them that day. Then we are off to the FEI grazing area until they are dry and can go back to their stalls.

2 p.m.

At this time, I usually like to start my afternoon chores depending on what my day looks like. I get my stalls cleaned one last time and top off their water buckets. Then it is time to get Cascalretto ready for his quick flat before the class. He gets a full groom again before getting tacked up. He then heads out to loosen up. Once he’s back I give him a few minutes in his stall to get a drink and go to the bathroom before I pull him back out to get cleaned up.

3:30 p.m.

Photo by Boss Mare Media

The horses get dinner hay and then I like to tidy up the barn one last time before the end of the day. I usually sweep, dust, and all of that fun stuff. Today after they get their grain and are finished eating it is time for Cascalretto to come out and start getting ready for the ring. Vanessa’s team, which is Team Lugano Diamonds, is going first so that means he needs to be ready and at the ring by 4:45. The first thing I do is braid him. He doesn’t have the best mane for braids, so it always takes me a bit to get them to look good. Then I groom him one last time before tacking him up with his show tack. I put on his jump boots and grab boots, I double-check that my ring bag is ready, and then we head to the ring.

5 p.m.

I get Vanessa on, we do our pre-boot check, and I go grab a jump so we can warm up. Today wasn’t the best day for Team Lugano Diamonds but that just comes with the sport.

6 p.m.

Once Cascalretto is finished showing we go back to the barn and he gets untacked. I like to ice him in his stall so he has time to relax by himself before I continue with his aftercare. I leave the ice on for 20 minutes. Once he is done icing, he gets a good liniment bath to cool his muscles down. I take him out for a bit of grass to help him dry more quickly. Then I bring him back to the grooming stall to get wrapped. I poultice all four legs and pack his feet. Once that is done, I run a brush through his mane and tail and brush him off one last time before letting him go in his stall for the night. After he is put away, I quickly check over my other horses before heading out.

7:30 p.m.

When I get home, no matter how late it is, I always try my best to give myself a bit of time to decompress before going to bed. I’ll usually shower first, then make myself something for dinner, and then either watch an episode of a show or scroll through my phone to give myself a little “me time” before going to sleep and starting all over!

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!