Jake Parker Wymard is a professional rider and trainer at Ashcombe Sporthorses, a business that he owns and operates with his mother, Ginger Parker, and Erika Sentz — but he feels his role in the horse world is very different from his title. Splitting his time between Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, and Ocala, Florida, Jake feels he represents the underdog. “I don’t come from the same means as a lot of my peers,” he said. “I started as a working student when I was in 6th grade for Kris Cheyne in St. Louis. I was a working student for many amazing people as a junior, which was incredible, and I was blessed to have that opportunity. With all of that said, there is a lot of grit that has gone into my early riding career, and I appreciate everything that I have. Being a kid who has worked hard and been given amazing opportunities adds a unique level of responsibility and gratitude. I feel as though I represent all of the kids that are in the same position I was in. And now, I’m working to make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given so that they’re not wasted.”
How did you get involved with horses?
My mom is a professional, and I grew up on a breeding/training farm. I’ve been around horses my entire life, but I didn’t want to ride until I was 8. I always wanted to be the kid playing football in the backyard, but I felt so bonded with horses at a young age that it was just a matter of time until I fell in love with them.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love to spend time with my horses; I think bonding with a horse is essential in building a partnership with them. I spend a lot of time with my horses in their stalls. I usually sit on the ground and let them go about their business, but it creates a relationship where we’re comfortable with each other. I ride a lot of green horses, which makes having their trust so important. If I’m honest, though, the time I spend in the barn is more therapy for me than anything, and there’s no place I’d rather be. Whoever came up with the saying that dogs are man’s best friend never had a horse!
What’s your biggest achievement?
That’s a really tough question to answer. I believe my most significant achievement has not come yet. I’m really proud of the accomplishments my team and I have made with some of the horses we’ve bred. To breed a horse, attend their birth, break them, train them, show them and then make them into a horse that goes on to great things at indoors and other championships is one of the most fulfilling moments I’ve experienced. Valrhona, owned by Highland Farm, LLC, in Long Island, New York, is a mare I started riding in my last year as a junior. I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish on her. She went from 2’6″ to 3’9″ in two years, and we ribboned at all the indoors we attended in 2019 in the 3’6″ Greens. I was both a bit starstruck and inspired to be showing in that company my first year out of the juniors. I have a lot to learn, but the welcome I received from the likes of Carlton Brooks and Archie Cox, that was other-level for me. 2020 put us on hold because we reinstated all of the horses’ Green status, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get things going with Valrhona and the rest of our horses again this winter in Ocala!
What are your goals?
I love to dream big and pursue my dreams with everything I have. My goals are to continue growing as a hunter rider in the industry and become one of the best. I have some wonderful mentors, like Louise Serio and Patty Foster, who have been amazing to me; I owe a lot to them.
I love the hunters and will always compete in that division. However, 8-year-old Jake started riding because he went to Harrisburg and watched the Grand Prix. I was amazed and could not stop talking about how I wanted to be like the riders that weekend. That fire that I felt has never gone away. My goal is to become a top international Grand Prix rider. I know that’s a lofty statement, and I still have a lot I need to learn. If I don’t pursue my dreams, I could never forgive myself, so I’ll give it all I have to make it happen. Kevin Babington, who has worked just as hard as anyone, has been an incredible mentor for me. Kevin has shown me the commitment and love for the sport required to be a rider of his caliber.
What’s the secret to your success?
My team at Ashcombe Sporthorses! I’m a 20-year-old guy, which means I’m not always the most organized! My mom and Erika are truly amazing; they work harder than anyone. I love them both, and I cannot imagine what my life would look like without them. I genuinely believe I have the best mom on earth! She and I have spent countless hours in the truck as she has taken me everywhere I’ve needed to go to pursue my dreams. Not only has my mom taught me to work hard if I want something, to wake up early if I need extra time, or to be thankful to others; she’s shown me those values and taught me what it is to be a good person!
What don’t most people know about you?
I’m a sophomore business major at Gettysburg College and currently have a 4.0 GPA with a full academic scholarship. I’m also an avid golfer and basketball player. I’m focused on my goals in life and enjoying every step of the journey on the way!