Feb 28, 2021

Now on Course: Heartbeats and Hoofbeats

Tayah Fuller and Top This Absolute aka "Torrey" at the GMHA Horse Trials. Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto Photo.

My name is Tayah Fuller and I’m 14 years old. “On course” to me is a phrase that makes my heart pump fast and my excitement go wild. There is no better feeling than galloping through a field or flying over cross-country jumps with my heart thrumming along, especially when it is with my best friend. You see, I was born with a congenital heart murmur. While it has never really affected my athletic abilities, the one time that I notice it is when I am riding through a cross-country course with my horse. When my heart rate speeds up, it beats to the exact rhythm of his hoofbeats. I know it sounds cheesy, but I think that my love for horses is part of my DNA and my heart murmur is just one way that my body syncs up with my horse.

This past year was my first year competing at USEA recognized events with my “heart horse,” Torrey. It was also Torrey’s last full year as an eventer since it is necessary for him to step down from jumping due to age-related changes in his body. My skill level has also outgrown his athletic potential. This has been very hard for me to accept because I love him so much and want to be able to event him forever! But part of loving your horse is knowing what is best for them.

Torrey and I have been together for nearly 10 years and he was the first horse that I ever sat on. He is sensitive and a complicated ride, but he is my best friend. I cannot imagine any other partner to help me break into the world of sanctioned eventing. He was not a trained eventing horse when I got him. We grew into eventing together. I supposed that’s why we have such a special bond. We had to learn how to trust each other and I had to learn how to work through all of his quirks! Although I won’t be doing much eventing with Torrey this coming summer, I do have a younger buddy named Zyn that I have been working with for the past year.

Tayah and Ragnar Lothbrok aka "Zyn" at the GMHA Horse Trials. Joan Davis/Flatlandsfoto Photo.

My new horse, Zyn, is about to turn 6 years old and he is definitely the most talented horse that I have ever sat on. His temperament is awesome and he is a perfect match for me going forward in my eventing career. Zyn is an off-the-track Thoroughbred out of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption in New York and we are working toward the Retired Racehorse Project event in October of 2021.

Zyn has been coming along beautifully and I have learned a ton about training a young horse this past year. We take lots of baby steps and we do lots of puttering around. He is playful, smart, brave, hard-working, and athletic. What I have learned most from training him (under the supervision of my trainer!) is that sometimes change isn’t noticeable until it is noticeable all at once! Patience always seems to be the best way to go. Even a talented horse like Zyn needs to be constantly reassured and praised. We are definitely building a strong partnership and I know that it is a privilege for me to ride him. To be honest, I think that it is a privilege for humans to ride horses at all.

While this time in my eventing career is full of change and growth, I know that even the most difficult changes are the most necessary. My mind will always wander to the times when Torrey and I galloped in sync across the cross-country field, but I will also be working on ways for this same phenomenon to happen with Zyn. While I haven’t yet galloped Zyn fast enough for my heartbeat to sync up with his hoofbeats yet, I’m sure with time my murmuring heart and his on-course gallop will be perfectly in unison. Hopefully, that time will come well before we head to Lexington, Kentucky this fall!

The USEA is made up of over 12,000 members, each with their own special horses and experiences. The USEA's Now on Course series highlights the many unique stories of our membership. Do you and your horse have a tale to tell? Do you know someone who deserves recognition? Submit your story to Jessica Duffy at [email protected] to be featured.

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