Exhibitor’s is proud to announce our partnership with Jacob Arnold!
With a decorated resume he started driving at 8 years old, has been competing in Combined Driving since he was 14, and has competed in 4 World Championships in 6 years (2014-2019), a record for driving that no one else in the United States holds! Jacob has solidified himself as an elite competitor. We are thrilled to have him on board as an Exhibitor’s Ambassador.
Passionate about his career and full of enthusiasm when he tells his story, Jacob was 8 years old when he was “bitten by the driving bug”. He felt more at ease behind the reins driving a horse rather than riding one. Duke, the family chestnut Shetland pony, was his first driving partner. Driving was just a natural fit for Jacob. He had an instant affinity for the sport. From there, Jacob never let go of the reins! In 2010, at 17, he completed his first FEI competition with his Morgan mare, Shadow. The following year he won the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year, the only Combined Driver to do so. His Combined Driving career has taken him from his hometown of Snow Camp, NC to four FEI World Championships all over the world.
When Jacob was honing his craft, he would watch videos that his parents had of the former FEI World Championships over and over again, learning the nuances of the different phases of the competitions. He was especially obsessed with the powerful skills of the 4-in-hand Combined Drivers. It is a dream of his to one day compete with a 4-in-hand team. Jacob admits, “I still have those videos in my possession today. They remind me of my ultimate goal.”
Combined Driving is designed to test the driver’s ability and the horse’s or horses’ obedience, speed and athleticism in three demanding phases: Driven Dressage, Marathon and Cones. Jacob, driving a single horse, won his first FEI World Championship marathon in 2014. At the time he was sponsored by Iron Spring Farm in Ocala, Florida and is the only American to win the FEI Marathon in the Single Horse class. As a young driver, Jacob really favored the Marathon phase of the 3-Day Combined Driving Event. “I am an adrenaline junkie,” says Jacob. “ The Marathon phase is like the Formula 1 of equestrian sports. So, I was hooked from the get-go on the part of the competition that really engaged the fans and made the sport particularly exciting to even non-horse people.” He continues, “Now that I am getting older, I am finding the Dressage phase to be extremely challenging, so it has become a very close second favorite part of the competition.”
In the world of Combined Driving, FEI World Championships are held every other year. In 2019, Jacob was on the road competing for 6 months straight, most of the time in Europe, where the sport has gained a considerable following. What does this entail? Quite a lot! Home base is now Hermitage Farm in Goshen, KY and the Grand Oaks Resort in Weirsdale, Florida in the winter. When Jacob Arnold goes “on tour”, he is like a rock star; he takes a whole entourage! Yes, you guessed it, it includes all the horses he competes with, his dog, trucks and trailers. Everything leaves by ship from a designated U.S. port and arrives before the first competition. This past year they arrived in a port (Zeebrugge) near Bruges in Belgium.
He also brings his favorite grooming products with him, so he never runs out. Exhibitor’s grooming products have been traveling along with him for years. Jacob estimates that he must have taken at least 22 gallons of Quic Silver Shampoo with him last season for his grey horses. Hermitage Farm has had a long-standing tradition of competing with impeccable grey horses. “Nothing else gets our greys looking like the “gold standard”. We have tried other products, and nothing compares to Quic Silver,” Jacob states. “Our greys always look whiter than white with a beautiful silvery sheen, exactly what you want for the FEI horse inspection,” he adds. Recently, Steve Wilson Hermitage Farm’s owner and Jacobs greatest supporter, just purchased two black horses and Quic Black Shampoo has become another must-have grooming product. Sun-bleached coats, manes and tails can be an issue with dark horses, but Quic Black Shampoo gets them back to black hues in no time.
Someone that goes on tour with Jacob is Mary Sheerin. She is Jacob’s head groom, life manager and fiancé. One of her favorite Exhibitor’s products is Quic Braid. It ensures tight, neat braids and helps making the braiding process go faster and smoother. Jacob admits he leaves the braiding to Mary! Before the horses get harnessed up for a competition, Quic Sheen is another helpful finishing tool to keep horses’ coats shiny and dust-free while helping to add shine, conditioning and fullness to the tails!
Bringing their favorite grooming products from home ensures that the Hermitage Farm horses always look their best for Jacob’s competitions. Jacob’s favorite event takes place in the Netherlands, organized by one of his idols, Boyd Exel,l in Valkenswaard. It is a very friendly event for those drivers who are competing, and the atmosphere exudes an extremely fun, positive vibe with after event activities that help to bond the competitors. It is a World Championship level venue and experience that is hard to replicate. His other favorite Event is on his ‘home turf’, the Kentucky Classic. Graciously hosted by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, at Hermitage Farm every 2 years. Since he doesn’t have to travel for this competition, he can get that great steak, which he misses when he is abroad for 6 months, substituting steak for a lot of schnitzel dinners instead.
What is the most challenging event that Jacob has ever competed in? Lahden, Germany was his answer. Typically, it presents one of the most difficult marathon phases, offering the most technically challenging obstacles throughout the course. Jacob shared that it is continuously a humbling event and makes him strive harder each time to do his very best.
Speaking of doing his very best, as Jacob continues to learn and grow as a professional Combined Driver, he is eager to impart that knowledge to educate others in the sport. He enjoys training many of the junior drivers and gives back to them the support, valuable advice and solid instruction that he received when he was their age. He also trains adult drivers, showing them that unlike a lot of other equine disciplines, there are multiple options in Combined Driving as well as a longer lifespan to participate in the sport. In the past 15 years, instructing has become a passion of his that inspires him to go above and beyond his own personal driving milestones.
Another reason Jacob loves to teach is to bring more awareness about Combined Driving to the United States. While it is a popular discipline in many other countries, it is a relatively new sport in the US, only about 45 -50 years. Jacob would like to see the United States truly embrace his beloved sport and make it more popular for those young riders who dream of competing as he did and for spectators to. As an athlete representative on the United States Equestrian Federation Board of Directors and a member of the USEF Driving Sport Committee, Jacob has become a strong advocate for bringing forth national awareness to Combined Driving.
What is Jacob up to right now? Hermitage Farm is busy and so is Jacob and his team! They are practicing and training to represent the United States in Combined Driving events for the next season. Jacob started driving a pair of grey horses (Mr. Lindsey G and Endorro, owned by Steve Wilson) at the 2019 World Championships and most recently received the title of 2020 USEF Pair Horse National Champion. He has never given up his childhood dream of procuring a big win with a 4-in-hand team and continues to work toward that ultimate goal!
Welcome Jacob Arnold to the Exhibitor’s Team of Ambassadors! We look forward to supporting him in all his future endeavors.