Jan 13, 2021

Now On Course: McKenna Miller and Bo Jango

McKenna Miller and Bo Jango. Maya Caceres Photo.

Over the past few years, I have gotten to know McKenna Miller and her current horse, Bo Jango (or "Jimbo" as he is known around the barn). I want to share the story of how she got Jimbo, because it has made a positive impact on my life and has inspired me to be a better person and rider with my own horse.

I met McKenna when we started working together cleaning stalls at a small farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. At the time she had a lovely off-the-track Thoroughbred mare that she was bringing along that had a very promising future. I watched them constantly improve and everyone at the barn got excited about their future together. One night the mare was in an extremely unfortunate pasture accident which left her with an injury that couldn't be healed. She had to make a very difficult decision to let the mare go. I was there at the barn that day and it was absolutely heartbreaking. Our entire barn family felt as though it was a personal loss and the horses knew that they had lost a dear friend.

McKenna and Jimbo on course at the Kentucky Horse Park. Maya Caceres Photo.

For the next few weeks I wondered if she would be able to get back in the saddle and continue with another horse. I’m not sure if I would have had the strength to do so if I was in that position. But after a few weeks, she came back to the farm and started cleaning stalls again and said she wanted to start looking for another horse. I remember admiring her strength and determination to keep riding even though she was still grieving the loss of her mare. Though I knew she was still sad about her loss, she never complained about working hard around the farm. I knew that with that kind of determination there was nothing that was going to stop her from being the best rider she could possibly be.

A short time later is when she found Jimbo. She restarted Jimbo earlier this year and has already taken him around two successful Beginner Novice recognized horse trials and rides for the University of Kentucky Eventing Team. They are becoming a wonderful pair and I cannot wait to see where they are able to go in the future. I have gone schooling with them many times and she always has something positive to say about me and my horse which always makes me smile.

She has stayed positive through what has been a tough year and hasn’t once complained even though the loss of her mare was a tragic accident and extremely unfair. Her strength to persevere with a positive and caring for others attitude has influenced me to be a better person and rider in my own life. Every time I see her and Jimbo out at a show it helps remind me that eventing isn’t about winning ribbons or competing at a higher level than everyone else. Eventing is about supporting other riders when your ride didn’t go well, saying thank you to those that help you, and enjoying your horse regardless of what place you come in.

McKenna praising Jimbo after their dressage test. Maya Caceres Photo.

McKenna and Jimbo have set an amazing example of who I want to be as a rider and a person. This year has been particularly tough for everyone with the pandemic and I just wanted to highlight a positive story that has helped me keep going and riding even when my original plan for this year had been derailed. I can’t wait to see where McKenna and Jimbo go in the future and will always be one of their biggest fans!

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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