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.

Jul 15, 2024 Classic Series

USEA Podcast #365: The Coconino Three-Day Champions Chime In

There is nothing like competing in a USEA Classic Series Event and interim USEA Podcast Host Rosie Russel sat down to chat with the three champions from the Coconino USEA Classic Series. Hear what motivated these talented eventers to participate in the long-format this year, how each competitor prepared for the event, what they learned from the experience, and so much more!

Jul 14, 2024 Eventing News

More than Just a Number: Your Competition Entry Matters

In eventing, as across equestrian disciplines, every rider entry holds significant importance, extending far beyond the individual competitor. For the eventing community specifically, each entry plays a vital role in promoting inclusivity, ensuring financial viability, and maintaining the high standards set by USEA-recognized events.

Jul 13, 2024 Eventing News

Road to the AEC: Chalman and 'War Horse' Classic Greeley Are Headed to Kentucky

I have been working towards my goal of qualifying for AEC for quite some time now. I made the switch from hunters to eventing about eight years ago because I loved the adrenaline rush of cross-country. Although my family wasn’t able to buy a horse that had “been there, done that,” they have shown so much support for me in this dream.

Jul 12, 2024 Classic Series

Keyser, Caflisch, and Romero Add USEA Classic Series Wins to their Resume at Coconino H.T.

The Summer Coconino H.T. and Western Underground Inc. T, N, BN 3 Day Event is a staple on the Area X calendar for its fun environment and, of course, its Classic Series divisions. Competitors from all over flock to Flagstaff, Arizona, to check the box on one of their eventing goals. This year, the event at Coconino offered three long-format divisions and saw two first time winners and one Classic Series veteran rise to the top.

Official Corporate Sponsors of the USEA

Official Joint Therapy Treatment of the USEA

Official Feed of the USEA

Official Saddle of the USEA

Official Equine Insurance of the USEA

Official Forage of the USEA

Official Supplement Feeding System of the USEA

Official Competition & Training Apparel of the USEA

Official Horse Boot of the USEA

Official Shockwave of the USEA

Official Horse Wear of the USEA