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.
US Equestrian is pleased to announce two additional competitions approved by the USEF Board of Directors to host CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, and Advanced level events during the 2023-2027 competition cycle under the new Eventing Calendar Process. The Florida Horse Park has been allocated the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, and Advanced levels on Week 16 and the Advanced level on Week 40.
If you take one look at Jim Moyer’s Facebook page, you will see it is filled with sweet sentiments from the lives he has touched through his work in the equine industry. Moyer’s involvement with horses began when he met his future wife Jean 50 years ago. As Jean went on to become a prominent instructor in eventing, Moyer found that their friend circle was full of horse people, so it was only natural that he should find his place in the community.
Horses and riders in 12 divisions, from Starter to CCI4*-S, tackled the show jumping phase of competition Sunday at The Event at TerraNova, over a track designed by Nick Granat in the world-class setting of the main arena. Prize money was awarded in all divisions.
USEA Official Podcast Host Nicole Brown looks back on a brilliant Maryland 5 Star with Jennie Brannigan, reflecting on her fourth-place finish and highlights of the inaugural running of the event. USEA CEO Rob Burk and USEA President Max Corcoran then join Nicole to look forward to the 2021 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention which takes place in December.