When you think of the ideal sport horse, it’s usually not a 16.3 hand Shire Thoroughbred cross with feet the size of dinner plates and a head that barely fits into oversized bridles. But that didn’t stop my 17-year-old self from falling in love with a big, uncoordinated, gangly, barely-4-year-old mare named Willow.
Coming off of a high school break up, my parents agreed to let me buy her in the hope that it would mend my broken heart. Boy, were they right. I poured my heart and soul into training her, and together we began our eventing partnership, starting out with unrecognized cross-rail levels and working our way up from there.
I had only competed my previous horse up through the Beginner Novice level, so it was definitely a learning process for us both. Due to her size and breeding, it took a lot of work, and more importantly, patience, for her to understand her job and do it well.
In May of 2017, we completed our first long format event at the Novice level, finishing with just a rail added to our dressage score. We successfully moved up to Training later that season. In the spring of 2018, we unfortunately discovered multiple melanomas in the guttural pouches of Willow’s throat. At first, I was completely devastated that my best friend and teammate was ill. But I refused to give up on her.
Fortunately for us, we are surrounded by some of the country’s best vets who have worked diligently to help me keep Willow healthy. After finding a medication that worked to keep the tumors at bay, we received the all-clear to keep training and competing.
As of the 2019 season, we have completed dozens of Training level events, most recently completing a Training level long format event and a Preliminary/Training horse trials. We are heading to the American Eventing Championships in August and competing at the Training level.
Willow shows no signs of slowing down, and absolutely loves her job. There were a lot of people who didn’t believe in her, and I am so glad that she has been able to prove them wrong. She fights health problems, unconventional breeding, and not-so-ideal conformation, and yet she gives me 100 percent every single ride. I firmly believe that what she lacks in outstanding breeding or natural athletic ability, she more than makes up for in heart, and I am eternally grateful that our paths crossed all those years ago.
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. The 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships will be held August 27-September 1, 2019 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).
We've got another Team Talk update for you listeners this week! Nicole Brown is joined once again by USEF Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander and USEF Managing Director for Eventing Jenni Autry to talk about the U.S. eventing team's path forward to Tokyo.
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.