Meet The SMART Equestrian:
By Riesa Lakin
February 7, 2020
Corro’s Ambassador program is a community of equine enthusiasts who embody Corro’s values and help us spread the word to other equestrians. They’re our partners in creating a community to spread the word, provide us with on-going feedback, and celebrate the reason we are all here—our love for horses. One of our ambassadors is Jenna Knudsen, or you may also know her as The Smart Equestrian. Jenna is an equestrian life coach and creator of The Smart Equestrian Planner. We spoke with Jenna about finding her passion as an equestrian life coach and growing a community of empowered women.
Courtesy of Jenna Knudsen
How did you become a life coach?
I started coaching with a health company. It was not by design at first. My teammates and partners somehow gravitated to me for advice. It started slowly, but I started getting more and more calls for help. One-by-one, I would coach them. Some needed motivation and inspiration. Others had to overcome daily struggles and most everyone had to deal with the curveballs of life or financial challenges. Each person was different.
What I realized was that I made a difference. I found myself devouring books on personal growth, going to leadership and coaching seminars, and then speaking in front of packed rooms.
Sadly, that company did not make it, however it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It set me off on a new direction with new life skills and passions. Shortly after, women from the previous company contacted me and asked to hire me to as their coach. They said they loved the way I made them feel. I said YES and since then have never looked back.
"What I really LOVE is helping people get what they want."
So, it sounds like this was not an intentional career choice?
As I look back, I guess I was destined to help people. I was always the one my girlfriends came to for help when they got in trouble and they knew our secrets were in the vault. Over the years as I have grown, I have become a champion of women. I want all women to love their lives. If I have a friend or client and they feel pain, I feel their pain. It’s hard to describe, but answers and direction flow to me to help them.
What I really LOVE is helping people get what they want. I feel joy from others finding their path in life. I am passionate about people LOVING their lives, not just surviving. I have been down in the darkness at various times of my life and I know how to make it out. I love helping others over-come their challenges and then soar!
Courtesy of Jenna Knudsen
Tell us where horses came into the picture.
My Great-Grandfather, my Grandfather and my Dad all rode. So, I guess horses are embedded in my DNA. I grew up in Rye, NY and had my first riding lesson at age 4. My mom was hoping I would love ballet, but she said once I got in the saddle, she knew my dancing career was done.
I started riding in the Short Stirrup division. By 16 I was competing in Medal Maclay. I loved competing but was an anxious rider. I drank Pepto Bismol by the bottle. Simply being at the barn was what I loved the most—the grooming, the smells, the friends—all of it. My best memories are "barn memories" and the shenanigans we girls got ourselves into. I knew early on my love of horses and the equestrian life would most definitely would align my stars and blaze my trail.
My mind, heart, and soul are completely aligned with my coaching, and the results are miraculous!
Can you explain how you were able to merge coaching with horses?
The more you do something the better you become at what you are doing. I have now been a Life Coach for 11 years. As with all professions, I go to coaching seminars to improve my skills and abilities to help others.
At one of my coaching seminars, we each were guided to talk about our careers and passions. The seminar leader challenged each of us to find a niche. He said the smaller the niche the better. That was scary because didn’t you want to appeal to everyone? During that weekend, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Coach my people! Equestrians. Be the “Equestrian Life Coach.”
The more I thought about this, the more excited I became. Five years ago, I became a life coach for equestrians, and it was the best and most important decision I have ever made. My mind, heart, and soul are completely aligned with my coaching, and the results are miraculous! I love what I do and the equestrians I work with benefit from my commitment. It’s a total win-win!
Courtesy of Jenna Knudsen
So how is coaching people connected to horses?
To me, riding lessons and life lessons have much in common. As you are coached as a rider, you discover not just how to ride, but how to lead your horse so he or she trusts you. As you get to be a better rider you gain confidence in your ability. You can then go to the next level.
Personal growth is about you learning to trust yourself. Unfortunately, most do not have coaches that help move us up to our next level of growth outside the ring. The most important lesson I have learned is we all need coaches and accountability, and not just in the ring. This has become my passion. To be the one to ignite personal growth into the equestrian world. Create it and they will come. This is what the Smart Equestrian and being a “Smartie” is all about.
Tell us more about the Smart Equestrian.
As I began The Smart Equestrian, I traveled barn to barn teaching goal setting, vision boards, healthy rider lifestyle, and creating practices and habits to help equestrians live lives they love. The response was tremendous! There was a real need for life coaching in our equine world. It did not matter the barn or the discipline, everyone wants to improve their life. Becoming the best PERSON you can be directly affects the kind of rider you can be, regardless of what kind of saddle you sit in!
Soon, I realized there was a missing piece—accountability. How could someone stay on track once I left the barn? This is how The Smart Equestrian Planner was born! This first of its kind, the equestrian planner became your perfect 24/7, 365-day accountability guide to keep you on track.
The Smart Equestrian Planner took off and equestrians around the world LOVED it! But again, there was a missing piece. The most important ingredient of all...COMMUNITY. TRIBE. And so, voila, our online cyber-barn was born. The Smart Equestrian Planner Group (a.k.a. “Smarties”) and this is when EVERYTHING changed.
Courtesy of Jenna Knudsen
Tell us about your community—what does it take to become a “Smartie?”
Today the “Smartie Community” is over 700 women strong and growing fast. Women from all over the world are part of our online community. It is a fun, vibrant, sharing, community of equestrians that lift each other up each and every day. It is a place to come to for daily support, coaching, guidance and to be part of an engaging, lively community of their own.
The Smarties Group started with 100 equestrians and we had a tight-knit private group on Facebook. It started off slowly and tentatively with everyone not totally sure how vulnerable to be online. But as time trotted on, friendships grew, and walls came down. The sharing went to another level. The trust sky-rocketed, transformations took place, and it started to feel like a family. There was truly magic. Now, in year 3...holy WOW! It's incredible. “Smarties” fly to visit one another. They exchange gifts. They laugh, cry, cheer and have got each other's backs. We have retreats and trips places like Ireland to ride and be together. We are from all over the world and from every discipline.
"I want every person to find their path—the one that leads to their happiest most fulfilled life."
What do you hope clients get out of working with you and what advice can you give to someone thinking of working with a life coach?
I want every person to find their path—the one that leads to their happiest most fulfilled life. I want each to know they can achieve whatever they dream by daily planning and consistently working towards goals. I want each to find more happiness, improved relationships, more time at the barn, better financial stability, become the best rider, or just being peaceful while at the barn. I want each to find what is important to them.
Through coaching, the planner, the Smarties Community and The Leg Up Coaching Club, there is a path for EVERY equestrian who wants to take their life to the next level. Oh, and one more thing—FUN! Having fun is mandatory with everything that I do!
As we go through life, we learn it is often challenging to go it alone. We all may think we’ve got this, but are we really doing what we love or are we being sucked into the vortex of to-do lists and making ends meet? How do we get more time at the barn? How do we grow financially to do the things we want to do? Are we taking care of ourselves or just others? How do we get there from here?
What I do is give you what you need. I focus on you, guide you, help you find your passion, and most importantly, help you to create and advance a plan from start to finish. I’m the coach in your corner dedicated to you and your success and happiness.