The Road to AEC is a series of articles contributed by our members about their journeys to compete in the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, N.C., August 30-September 3, 2017.
This year, 2017, will be my third year competing at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC). However, it will not be like the other two years. This year, I will be competing two horses instead of one. One is a seasoned horse and one is a green horse with only one eye.
My first two times competing at the AEC were with my former partner, Dignitarian, who I trained myself from a neglected and damaged green horse, ultimately competing together at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) in 2016. I credit him for the riding skills that I possess today. I made the difficult decision to sell Dignitarian after NAJYRC. He sold in January of this year and my plan was to focus 100% on my green horse, Obiejohn, with whom I am competing in the Novice Horse Division at the AEC this year.
However, the plans of this 16-year-old changed when I purchased my once-in-a-lifetime horse, River King, the last weekend in February with the money from the sale of Dignitarian. River King and I will be competing in the Junior/Young Rider Preliminary division this year at the AEC. River King, fondly known as Riley, and I have gone from Training level to Intermediate in only five months together.
Anna and River King. Elise Photo.
With all that said, the main focus of my journey to the AEC is Obiejohn. Fondly known as Jax, Obiejohn is a one-eyed horse. Yes, that is correct! Jax is one of the goofiest horses I have ever met, from smiling to bowing to wiping out in the pasture, he has one interesting personality.
Everyone asks me how different of a ride he is compared to “normal” horses. I always reply with, “He rides 100% like any other horse. I often forget he only has one eye!” I have taken Jax from Beginner Novice through Training level, and I hope to one day compete him at the upper levels. I am very lucky to own this horse because I can just feel the potential he has every time I ride him.
Many people think I am crazy when I tell them I think he can compete at the upper levels of eventing because of his one eye, but quite honestly he is one of the best jumpers I have ever sat on. He brings an interesting attitude to work. He is like a toddler who believes life is made of lollipops and gumdrops and he just wants to explore everything. Seriously, he tried to get into the tack room of my trailer one time just because I was in there!
Anna and Obiejohn. Diane Pierce Photo.
Jax loves every phase of eventing. He loves the fancy moves of upper-level dressage, will jump as high as the standards when he only has to jump 2’9”, and loves running and jumping over the cross-country questions. Jax even has his own Instagram account, @that_one_eyed_horse, because he is just too special!
My two horses and I will be making the trip to the Tryon International Equestrian Center from Texas, and we cannot wait to be there!