Over the winter, the horse-show circuit was once again in full swing in Florida, where one of its bright spots was Westchester’s own Alexa Adelson.
Reporting for Stadium Jumping Inc., Elizabeth Vieira writes glowingly of Alexa’s performance with her mare Reeva II in the Tampa Bay Classic’s division for amateur-owners ages 18-35.
“While rounds were consistently steady, Adelson and Reeva II came out on top with stellar form over the fences and a distinguishable forward stride through the twists and turns of the handy round. Adelson, under the direction of Mathew Morrissey, generated two winning courses, as well as a second- place finish in the under saddle.”
It’s perhaps not surprising that when you ask Alexa how she’s doing, she is straightforward about her performance, but doesn’t elaborate. At 19, she is poised and sympathetic, more interested in how you are than in touting her accomplishments.
Alexa competes in the hunter-jumper category of equestrian sports, which involves going over obstacles. The other categories include dressage (balletic movements) and eventing (cross country). Alexa owns two jumpers, the geldings Padie and Scarabaras, who compete with her in timed events, as well as Reeva, whom she rides in hunter events, which focus more on form.
Her equine family also includes her pony, Stanley, whom she no longer shows with now that he is older.
But, Alexa adds, “He’s my baby.”
There are no stallions in the mix.
“It depends on the horse,” she says, “but most riders prefer a gelded animal as he’s easier to keep – not as much attitude,” she adds with a laugh. “Also, a lot of horses shown here are imported, which means they have to be quarantined, and stallions are in quarantine a longer time.”
When you’re at a show, Alexa says, you’re there for at least two or three days.
“You can’t show every week. You have to have a break.”
Generally, Alexa practices in the morning with each horse for about a half-hour, taking the animal over the flats, or level ground. She and the horses practice the jumps once a week.
Inevitably, she’s had her share of spills.
“I’ve ridden horses with issues. They have minds of their own. …I’ve fallen several times. If you fall, you walk the horse out of the ring, then get back on and attempt the jump again or go on to another one. Once you fall, it stops fazing you. I’ve been lucky.”
Like many equestrians, Alexa fell in love with the sport early. When she was 5, her family – which includes parents Warren and Jan, owners of the Adelson Galleries in Manhattan, and three older brothers – moved from Irvington to Sleepy Hollow. Soon she was taking riding lessons at Sleepy Hollow Country Club.
“I didn’t start competing until I was 14. I started coming down to Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival.”
For Alexa, however, it’s about more than competition.
“I loved riding and have stayed with it so long because of the relationship with the animal. A lot of people are afraid because the horse is so much bigger.”
The young horsewoman also takes a pragmatic approach to the sport.
“Some of the top riders are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. I can ride my whole life.”
Whether she’ll turn pro remains to be seen. For now, she’s been busy riding, working as a restaurant hostess – though she’s cut back on that – and taking classes at Palm Beach State College at night.
This month, the circuit moves on up to Kentucky, bringing Alexa, her horses and faithful Yorkie Cubbie.
It’s a lot of work and responsibility, particularly for one so young. But Alexa wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ll definitely be riding forever.”