Super Sisters: Olivia and Alexia Tordoff Shine In and Out of World Show Arena

September 4th, 2017 11:59 PM | No Comments

>2016_09_02_12_32_08.pdf001They say how you react to adversity says a lot about your character.  One can imagine that how you react to adversity on the world’s biggest stage says even more.  While the pressure is always on for every rider at the Ford Youth World, some riders had a little more to overcome.  Olivia and Alexia Tordoff may be show ring veterans, but after the passing of their grandmother a few weeks prior to the 2017 Ford Youth World it was an understandably emotional time.  Throw in added factors like it being Alexia’s first Youth World, Olivia’s horse, Sterling Version’s, last World Show, and an unexpected power outage in the Horsemanship finals, and they showed just how much of a force they are to be reckoned with.  Alexia claimed the top titles in the 13 and Under Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation with Blazing Hot N Gold, and Olivia capped off “Sterling’s” amazing career with a World Championship in Horsemanship and returned the next day with Too Blazin Cool to pick up another gold globe in Hunter Under Saddle.

IMG_3591Winning the 13 and Under events came as a complete surprise to Alexia, who had set goals to make the semi-finals in her first Ford Youth World.

“Frankly, my goals for the Youth World were to make it to the semi-finals in both the equation and the horsemanship, and I thought those were stretch goals,” Alexia explains.  ”This was my first year showing at the Youth World so it was a mixture of excitement and anxiety for me. The Youth World is like no other show I have competed at, and in my wildest dreams, I did not think I would make it to the finals in both my classes! I really wanted to have good rides and make my grandmother proud of me.”

“Brent, Rooster and I had been working hard but I could not have dreamt that my first World Show would be so incredible! Brent tells us if we work hard and focus it will come together but I was really shocked to make the finals in both of my classes.”

Showing is definitely a family affair for the Tordoffs, and they definitely felt the absence of their grandmother in the stands.  However, there were moments they said where they knew they were not alone.

IMG_8217“My family and I are EXTREMELY close, we rely on each other for support and love and showing really has become a family event,” says Olivia.  ”To us, ‘familia’ is always first. The passing of my grandmother was very difficult for us, she was a true matriarch in our family and her Mexican temper kept us all in line!  She was my best friend, and I miss her everyday, but I know that she is always with me no matter where I am. She loved to watch me and my sister show. She was still running her business until she passed, and she really instilled in us that nothing is owed to us, and we have to be willing to work really hard to attain our goals.”

It was while awaiting the announcement of Horsemanship finals qualifiers, that Alexia even had a special moment when she knew an extra angel was riding with them.

“She loved watching us show and she had even traveled to the World Show with us in the past,” remembers Alexia.  ”I knew that my grandmother would want me to go out there and give it my all. I will never forget sitting in the lineup waiting to hear who made the finals for the horsemanship and hearing one of my grandma’s favorite songs play overheard. The song was ‘Seven Spanish Angels.’ I knew my grandma was with us. Then, to hear my number called for the finals, I was truly shocked. I will never forget sitting in the that pen, hearing my number called and then hugging my sister.”

To add to the emotion of this year’s Youth World was that Olivia knew this would be the last time she would enter the Jim Norick Arena with her partner, Sterling.  The 21 year-old gray gelding would be celebrating a well-deserved retirement after the show, and for extra icing on a very successful show career, Olivia and Sterling overcame an unexpected power outage to win the world title. 

“Winning the horsemanship with Sterling was so, so special for me.  The power outage was a bit nerve-racking because no one was sure what had happened.  I had to walk Sterling back up the chute, and it was dark and he is afraid of the dark. Yes, he is seriously afraid of the dark. What is odd, is that I somehow had a sense of calmness. I think it was a mix of feeling the presence of my grandmother, and also knowing that this was Sterling’s last World Show. I decided I was not about to let an incident that was out of my control take away from my last ride with him. I remember just taking a deep breath collecting myself and promising Sterling that we were going to make the most of the situation, and do what we love to do. Of course, him nickering throughout the pattern added to the drama of the whole situation.”

Version 2The next day, Olivia changed gears and came back with her other horse, Too Blazin Cool, to add another golden globe to her collection of hardware.  The two horses are very different, and while some riders may have a difficult time making adjustments, not Olivia.

“I was utterly shocked to pull off a win in both of my classes with two very special horses!” says Olivia. “Sterling is very different from Willy (Too Blazin Cool) in that Sterling can be very difficult horse to show. Sterling constantly wants to please you, and sometimes, he is an overachiever if the pattern is too simple. His demeanor can often change when he gets in the pen, he still gets excited to show and will occasionally be snorting and prancing into the chute! My trainer, Brent Tincher and I say, ‘Sterling always surprises us!’ At the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world! He has taught me so much. He taught me how to ride and to adapt. Willy, on the other hand, is usually quite calm, laid back, and won’t cheat me in the pen. They both have hearts of gold. It was such an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment to win in two different disciplines.”

IMG_2778Some might be surprised to hear that there isn’t a case of sibling rivalry between Alexia and Olivia.  In fact, the girls lean on each other for support and encouragement, and bring out the best in each other.

“I actually love showing with my sister,” explains Alexia. “I know Olivia is always there for me, and while my mom may always tell me that I am fabulous, Olivia tells me what I did wrong or what I need to work on.  Olivia is such a strong rider, great mentor and she is an amazing best friend!”

 

To read more inspiring stories from the 2017 Ford Youth World, check out “Their Time To Shine” in this month’s issue of Show Horse Today.

 

 

 

 

 

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