Jonathan Wentz travels the road to the world spotlight

Jonathan with Royal

Jonathan with Royal

Jonathan Wentz is a typical junior at Richardson High School. Early morning marching practices, Friday night football, hours of practice, and homework from classes are often thought to keep this member of the marching and concert band busy.

Walking down the halls or the streets, people see Jonathan as a teenage boy, with his lovable golden retriever, Royal, close to his side. What those people do not see or know is that Jonathan is a dedicated horseman with many accomplishments under his belt, and aspiring for more.

Jonathan first started physical therapy using the horse, hippotherapy, at age two. Trips out to Equest in Wylie for hippotherapy began at age five for Jonathan. He continued on from hippotherapy to vaulting, and at age 11 he started dressage. With the help of head instructor, Gail Pace, Jonathan has been competing in USEF and USDF recognized able-bodied competition in dressage for the past three years.

I knew the horse would be an invaluable experience for Jonathan both for therapy and for fun. In fact, I feel hippotherapy and riding have kept him walking. But I never would have dreamed it would take him this far in the world of dressage. It’s an exciting road, and it will be fun to see how far the ride will take him!
— Tina Wentz, Jonathan's mother

Jonathan started competing under the USEF Equestrian tests, but this past year, he switched to the USEF Para-Equestrian tests. Jonathan was recently classified as Grade 2 for competition on a five level scale. Grade 2 competes in walk-trot tests, and can canter in freestyle events. 

Jonathan at Equest's 2011 Gala

Jonathan at Equest's 2011 Gala

Now that Jonathan has found a place to compete, trying to qualify for the Paralympics is the next step in his riding career. Jonathan is currently working hard to qualify for the national Advances Riders list sanctioned by the USEF for Para-Equestrians. Being on this list allows him to be invited to national clinics and the national selection trails for the 2009 international competitions. Receiving qualifying scores on four tests at the Dallas Dressage Club's Spring Show and Region 9 Youth Team Championship Competition, Jonathan demonstrates he is not missing a step on the road to making the 2008 Para-Equestrian Advanced Rider list.

Coach Pace got it right when describing Jonathan as, "very determined, very disciplined, very athletic and talented." 

Jonathan does not plan on stopping at the Para-Equestrian international level competitions. His ultimate goal is to ride in the regular Olympics, to ride FEI. Whatever road Jonathan takes in the future is sure to bring him success. 

This article appeared in Equest's 2006 Annual Report

CJ Bankhead