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Jessica Bortner-Harris ’06

Posted: December 29, 2011

Former Wilson dual-track equestrian student Jessica Bortner-Harris ’06 is succeeding in a field that can be difficult to break into.

Today she not only owns her own stable operation, but she also trains and competes professionally in the equestrian sport of three-day eventing.

Three-day eventing tests the competitor’s abilities in show jumping, cross-country jumping and dressage. Jessica is currently riding in two-star intermediate horse trials and will be moving up to the advanced level next year.

The biggest highlight of her career took place in October at the Fairhill International CCI** competition in Elkton, Md., where she and her thoroughbred, Win the War, placed 16th out of 68 competitors.

"I bought Win the War as a 4-year-old off the racetrack and have done all of his training," she said. "It was an amazing experience to have everything come together in one weekend … it was just the most amazing experience of my life!"

Snider’s Elevator Inc., of Lemasters, recently announced it is sponsoring Jessica in her eventing career. She is a former employee of Snider’s, which sells animal feed, riding equipment and livestock supplies.

While working toward a bachelor’s degree in equestrian studies from Wilson, Jessica studied both concentrations offered under the major: equine management and equestrian management. "Horses have always been my passion,” she said. “I loved finding a college that provided the opportunity for me to make my passion my job.”

A year after graduation, Jessica opened Rocky Start Stables in Thurmond, N.C., where she now lives. "I teach riding lessons, train horses, take in horses on consignment, do some small-time breeding, and I ride and compete with my own horses," she said.

As a Wilson student, Jessica was always busy, attending college full time but still managing to hold down three jobs and care for her two horses. She believes the experience helped to prepare her for the long hours and hard work of being a professional equestrian.

"The equine classes and hands-on time in the barn greatly increased my preparedness for the equine world,” said Jessica, who also left her own last mark on Wilson.

In 2005, she and fellow student Laurie Dionne ’05 established the Wilson College Eventing Team, which today continues to be a popular riding team on campus. “There were a good deal of students who were interested in eventing, and we wanted to create a way for them to learn more about the sport and be involved in it,” Jessica said.

Last Updated: December 29, 2011