Things are pretty good when you're a protege of Jill Henselwood. In fact, Jenn Serek is not only Henselwood's student, she has a lot of the same mannerisms as the Canadian team show jumper and Serek, who is competing in the North American this week at Spruce Meadows, has followed in her teacher's footsteps by getting a syndicate together to buy her first good horse, a Dutch warmblood named Shin Shin.
"Show jumping horses are quite expensive and in order to purchase one, we formed a syndicate, which Jill Henselwood, my trainer, had done 15 years ago," said Serek, 23, who lives in DeWinton.
Her eight-member group went on the trail, looking for that highly-touted prospect who could take top spot in her stable and it turned out the 10-year-old Shin Shin was the perfect horse.
"We found him in January and didn't expect him to be jumping at this level, so we're really pleased," said Serek, who posted a third-place finish at Indio, Calif., in the Ariat Challenge earlier this year.
"He's an incredible horse and he was owned by a Turkish man who got out of the sport. I was in Europe at the time and Emile Hendrix called and said he had this horse, except it wasn't Shin Shin, it was a different horse," said Serek, adding Henselwood has shares in the horse.
"It wasn't the right horse, so they pulled Shin Shin out of the barn and Jill was on a plane a couple of days later to look at him with me and he came straight to Indio from Europe."
Talk about bonding quickly.
The duo had a decent class yesterday at Spruce Meadows in the $30,000 Gunnar Office Furnishings Cup when they were nearly clean, but took down a couple of rails near the end of the course.
Serek's relationship with Henselwood is close, akin to that of a mother/daughter.
"I run my own business in Calgary and I keep my horses back east (in Ontario) with Jill and we meet up," explained Serek, who met Henselwood a year-and-a-half ago in Calgary.
"It's wonderful to have someone at her level and we're a good team. She's a great mentor who's really supportive. I probably talk to her on a daily basis."
Now the goal is to build a deep stable around Shin Shin so Serek can compete internationally with consistent results.
"That's our hope for him and we have a younger horse as well but we're looking to add more horsepower to my string," said Serek, who was born in Chilliwack, B.C.
"He's a really brave horse and he loves the atmosphere in the International Ring even though he's a bit nervous, but he's a big horse. He's superb."
Interestingly, Serek's first Grand Prix horse was Henselwood's Same Old Song, which she rode last year.
"He showed me the ropes,"said Serek with a laugh.
No doubt Serek is hoping to sing the same hit song that's made Henselwood so successful during her stellar career.