Jan 20, 2024

Now On Course: Lily Goeller and Amy's First Love Compete in Memory of a Friend

Lily Goeller and Amy's 1st Love. Erin Gilmore Photography photo (left), photo courtesy of Jennifer Goeller (right)

Lily Goeller, Leesburg, Virginia, and Amy's 1st Love, an 11-year-old Welsh gelding of unknown breeding, had a stellar 2023 at Beginner Novice and earned the USEA Area II Junior Beginner Novice trophy. Goeller wrote this story about her journey with "Bongo."

My story of me and horses started in 2016 when was 5, and I was diagnosed with leukemia. During treatment there were many times when my immunity would be so low that I would be quarantined away from my friends and couldn’t go to school to avoid getting sick. A common cold could have been really bad for me, and many times I was so sick I didn’t want to get out of my bed.

My mom knew it was important for me to socialize and also to keep my body moving as much as possible. The thing that would motivate me were horses, and the doctors didn’t worry about me getting sick from horses like they did people. Sometimes when I didn’t feel well, my mom would say, “Would you like to go see the horses?” and I would find the strength to get up and go to the barn. Sometimes I would just walk from the car to the fence to give them a carrot and go back home.

My family prayed a lot for me, and thankfully I didn’t have a lot of bad side effects from treatments, but one of the side effects were that my legs would get sore, and my achilles tendons would get tight, making it really hard to walk, so riding horses would help me move around without having to walk, and “heels down” would help stretch my achilles tendons out making it easier to walk.

My mom and I didn’t really know much about horses at this time, and I was just learning to ride on a longe line when my parents bought our first horse, Malibu. My mom always says that she bought her for me but in time my mom realized that Malibu was as much for her as for me. Malibu gave her something to focus on other then leukemia and the treatments.

Erin Gilmore Photography photo

Over two years later I finished treatment, and we wanted to move Malibu to our home, so we bought a pony and then another and another! I was a much better rider by then, and eventually started competing and got involved with Pony Club.

In 2022, my pony Birch tore his front right suspensory and was on rest for six-plus months. I was really sad. In the meantime I could ride my mom’s horse Malibu, but she was green and strong for me. I was taking some lessons from a trainer named Shannon Bossung, and her friend Amy Parson would sometimes watch my lessons. Amy was fighting cancer at that time but doing well.

She had a set back, and since I had some extra time on my hands because Birch was still healing, she asked if I could ride her pony Bongo, a rescue pony, to keep him in work for her. Amy’s fight with cancer suddenly turned for the worse, and she asked me if I could give Bongo a good home and take care of her pony forever.

That week that I had told Amy I would love her pony for her, she passed away. This is why I named Bongo, Amy’s 1st Love; I wanted to keep her memory alive. Amy loved riding and her horses even though she did so many amazing things in her life, had a husband Wayne, and was a really awesome pilot.

Bongo and I got down to fun right away to get to know each other. We did barrel racing, bareback jumping, fox hunting, swimming, trail riding, and cross-country schooling. Bongo did not have a ton of experience in eventing, but I quickly found out he really loved to jump. This was the start of our 2023 eventing season together. Then Bongo and I had a set back because I got kicked by a horse and broke my elbow.

Sadly no more jumping for the two of us for at least six weeks, but I was happy my doctor said I could at least do flat work. When I got my hard cast off, we got back to eventing with a stronger foundation in dressage! We did a lot of competitions throughout this season but one of my favorites was the Waredaca Beginner Novice Classic Three-Day (Laytonsville, Maryland).

One thing I have learned is that there is always a silver lining, God is good, and what knocks you down makes you stronger if you stay positive. I am so thankful for all of my trainers that have invested in me. Especially this year with Bongo and I; Arianna Almeida, Anthony Forrest, Rebecca Lee, and especially to Shannon Bossung and Amy Parson for bringing Bongo and I together.

Do you know a horse or rider with a cool story? Email Lindsay at [email protected] for a chance to be featured.

Apr 13, 2024 Profile

Now On Course: AEC Dreaming After a 30-Year Hiatus with Kelly O'Brien

Kelly O’Brien has her eye on a prize. “Pretty much the rest of this season will be targeted towards getting fired up for the AEC,” says O’Brien, 54. She and B E Never Say Never, a 19-year-old Dutch Warmblood, have qualified for the 2024 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds already, thanks to decisively winning all three of their 2024 outings thus far.

Apr 12, 2024 USEA Foundation

Applications for The Event at Rebecca Farm Travel Grant Due June 1

The Event at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) is renowned amongst members of the eventing community for its exceptional competition venue, genuine hospitality, and stunning backdrops. The Broussard Family Charitable Foundation and USEA Foundation are excited to share that travel grants to this iconic venue are returning once again for 2024 to assist riders traveling to Montana to compete in the CCI3* and CCI4* divisions at this year’s competition which takes place July 17-21.

Apr 12, 2024 Resources

Heads Up Competitors! Important Information Surrounding Entry Form and Liability Waiver Requirements for USEA/USEF Eventing Competitions

When aiming to compete in a United States Eventing Association (USEA) recognized competition (national competition or international competition), licensed or endorsed by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), understanding and fulfilling the specific requirements for entry forms and liability waivers is crucial.

Apr 12, 2024 Emerging Athletes U21

USEA Names Athletes for 2024 EA21 Regional Programs

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the athletes selected for the 2024 USEA Emerging Athlete U21 Program (EA21). USEA Young Rider program members aged 21 and under are eligible for the program. The purpose of the USEA EA21 Program is to identify and provide consistent quality instruction to the next generation of elite event riders.

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