Mar 01, 2022

What's In a Name: How a Flying Fish Helped an Amateur Find Their Wings

Mary Robinson and JustFortheHalibut. Amy Dragoo photo.

Meet Justforthehalibut aka “Fish." Fish is a 7-year-old OTTB out of On Z Run by Horse Greeley who was born and raced briefly in Ohio. This fun name is his registered Jockey Club name and I kept it because I love it. It completely embodies why I participate in this wonderful sport - just because it’s so much fun! While he didn’t seem to care much for racing, finishing in the back of the pack in all three of his races, he has excelled at eventing. His ears are up and he hunts for the flags.

We are both learning the sport under the excellent guidance of our trainer, Fylicia Barr. Fylicia has a great track record for finding OTTBs, retraining them for their second careers, and matching them up with the right owner/rider. She found my diamond in the rough as a 3-year-old and graciously let me try him for four months. I was sold with the first ride, however was just resuming riding several years off after recovering from back surgery and wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be too much for me as a youngster. I had told her I wanted a horse with a Labrador-like in-your-pocket personality and she knew he was the perfect one despite his youth. He is always the first to come up from the field and would do anything for a treat.

I purchased him as a 4-year-old and it is truly a match made in heaven. While I grew up working for lessons in a hunter/jumper barn and had previously started a couple of rescued Thoroughbreds under saddle, I have focused most of my time and energy on my career and family and Fish is my first horse! I am a veterinarian and I’ve always loved Thoroughbreds. I simply couldn’t have found a better partner than Fish. In addition to being an exceptional athlete who covers for my mistakes, he hacks out by himself and tolerates my crazy not-so-horse-savvy chocolate Labs. He just has the best brain and entertains us all with his loud snoring while napping in the barn.

Not that we haven’t had any challenges. For example at one of our first events, we parted ways during our stadium jumping warmup and he chose to take a preview of the entire cross country course before heading back to the trailers! He proved just how fit he was by handling it with ease the second time around with me in the saddle and I was especially proud that we recovered from my mistake during warmup to finish double clear.

Fish is also a bit accident-prone. A couple of weeks after I bought him, he ended up in the hospital with a puncture wound to his left hock. As a veterinarian, I knew how serious it could be. Thankfully it didn’t penetrate anything important, and since then there have been numerous puncture wounds, with absolutely no indication as to where they have come from. Believe me, we have looked! And the random oral ulcers that appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared - probably a reaction to a seasonal plant but has never recurred (thankfully) . . . and the weird whole-body skin infection last summer that made him lose all his hair . . . that also came and went without an apparent reason . . . it’s got to be because I’m a veterinarian, right?

Regardless, of these minor setbacks and challenges, in the last two seasons, we’ve moved with ease from Beginner Novice to Novice to Training. I plan to stay at the Training level this season with the goal to move up to Modified when I’m ready.

However, I’m so thankful I have Fylicia and her fantastic team to keep him progressing in his training so that he is always at least one step ahead of me. She will pilot him at the Preliminary level before the end of the year and who knows where he will go from there. On top of his great personality, he is a fantastic, super honest jumper.

With a name like Justforthehalibut, we’ve had lots of fun clipping fish patterns and scales for the winter. In 2020, I turned him into a dragon. However, in 2021, I think we nailed it as Nemo and Dory at Plantation Field’s Halloween starter trial.

I am so in love with my flying Fish – he is making this adult amateur’s dreams come true!

Does your horse or pony have an extra-special or unique show name? We want to hear all about them. Email Meagan DeLisle at [email protected] to tell us more and for a chance to be featured in our next What's In a Name column on useventing.com.

Jan 28, 2023 Membership

Now On Course: Woodrow Goes Wild to Mild

Did you know that there are over 53,000 wild mustangs in holding facilities across the United States? My mustang journey began in February 2018 after losing my heart horse whom I had just shy of 20 years. I wanted another horse of color, and my friend sent me the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) internet adoption link. I was amazed at all of the horses available on the internet auction, but I quickly fell in love with Woodrow. I learned that he was a popular band stallion in Wyoming and had been followed by photographers for close to three years.

Jan 27, 2023 ATC

Introducing the New Modified Rider Division at the 2023 AEC

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.

Jan 26, 2023 Young Event Horse

Get a Taste of Eventing with the New Event Horse Program

Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.

Jan 25, 2023 Profile

Dondante Steps Into The Spotlight with 2022 Standlee USEA Horse of the Year Title

Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.

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