Meet Mette Sejbjerg Jensen, a highly successful young horse specialist at Helgstrand Dressage, Denmark, who fought convention and is now using her petite frame as a strength.
“I’m living proof that there’s more to being a good rider, than having legs for days” Mette says with a smile. She’s just turned 30, blond, 170 cm tall with a slender frame, born and raised in Lemvig, Western Jutland. Coming from an equestrian family with strong female role models, her mother and grandmother both being avid equestrians, Mette’s career choice could easily be seen as obvious, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Mette`s ridden as long as she can remember, but due to her petite size, making her passion a carer, and riding professionally, never seemed like an option growing up. Twenty years back, being an examined master rider in Denmark was very much a physical job and a definite man’s game. “Growing up, I was told again and again, that I was to small, too petite and that I would never make it as a professional rider,” explains Mette.
At age 17 Mette was in upper-secondary school, when one day her mother interfered. “My mum told me she had noticed how I’d lost the spark in my eye, and that she’d enlisted me at the local agricultural school, without my knowing, because she thought I deserved to give being a professional rider a real go” says Mette, today still grateful for her mothers vigour.
She earned her examined master rider title by being strong headed, working hard and stepping out of her comfort zone, “at age 17 giving lessons to riders twice my age, was definitely a challenge” says Mette, who give the support of her family, friends and mentor Kristian Petersen credit - “They all very much cheered me on, but it was hard work, definitely. To this day I’m not sure I would do it again, but I’m happy I did.”
After completing her exams the Helgstrand team soon spotted Mette’s talent, and today she’s worked for Helgstrand Dressage for 4 years. ”Getting the job offer, was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, working with such amazing riders and horses, was an opportunity not to be missed and suddenly my size was an asset” says Mette who was hired to work with the young horses, specialising in stallion shows as well as young horse championships. “I have a passion for young horses, everything about them really, it think its´ such a thrill working with them and watching them develop, building them up both mentally and physically,” explains Mette. “There is such progress working with a younger horse, you get a better feeling riding them, almost day by day, it’s truly rewarding.”
“I bond with the horses as were they my own, it can definitely, be a challenge when working in a sales stable,” Mette admits, “but even though saying goodbye to a horse is heart breaking, I get a tremendous joy, when seeing one of my horses out and about in the world, making their new riders dreams come true.
At Helgstrand she got a list of 8 to 10 horses a day, among them is Château de Fontain’s Skovens Tzarina, the pair was a finalist at the 4 year old Danish Young Horse Championships at Blue Horse. “Working with a horse like Tzarina, the most important thing is that she’s happy and wants to work with and for me. We do lessons a couple a times a week. The rest of the time, I try to work as varied as possible. My first priority is to make her happy and sound,” Mette says.
“Tzarina is an incredible horse, I’ve ridden her since she first came under saddle, she always wants to work, she dosn’t get anxious and we know each other inside out. Once you bond with a mare like that, you share that bond for life.”
Mette and Tzarina will take part in the 2019 5-year old Young Horse Dressage Championship at the Danish Warmblood stallion licensing in Herning, Denmark, March 6-10. Best of luck girls!