Two Decades, One Horse: Enjoying The Journey From World Cup Aspirations To First Level Goals

Hello & Happy Friday! I’ve been posting on the forums for years (semi-anonymously), but I suppose today is the day to out myself. I recently wrote a blog post for COTH on my path with my heart horse from upper level eventing to jumpers, and most recently, to getting my bronze when he was 27 years young. It was just published today and figured some folks here might enjoy it :slight_smile: .

Two Decades, One Horse: Enjoying The Journey From World Cup Aspirations To First Level Goals


I enjoyed reading that. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Ben is truly one of the special ones that every rider hopes to have. Not because of the accomplishments in the ring ( though they are nice) but because of the uniquely special bond the 2 of you shared.

My first horse and I had that special bond (for 21+ years) together and you helped me remember how it was, now several decades ago.

Thank you.


Thank you so much for your kind words. That feeling of finding “the one” is really something :heart:


What a great story and lucky you that he’s still going at 27! WOW!


Thank you so much! He’s actually 28 now, and still has an attitude :rofl:


Congratulations on your Bronze. And thank you so much for sharing!


What a great story! And congratulations on the medal!

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What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing your life with Ben. It’s inspiring. I hope lots of younger riders read it and learn that it’s not all about competing, looking good on social media, and wearing the latest fashions. I’m grateful to have had one horse for twenty years, and hope to repeat with my current horse.


I want to thank you for sharing your story; it gave me hope. I bought my heart horse as an unstated 4 yr old…and he will be 20 this June, hovering between 2nd and 3rd level because so many life circumstances seemed determined to get in the way of my dream of going up the levels with him. He is in great shape and full of energy…maybe we still have time…


Lovely blog. It does give hope. My mare is turning 20 next month and I want to at least get a Century Ride in. The reason for our tardiness of goals is me. My body failed me about 10 years ago and over those years I have gotten several things cobbled back together. I think I just need the 2 scores at 3rd level but I don’t think my 66 yo body will rebound enough to get to 3rd level (in a showing capacity).

Horse is no way acting as if she is turning 20. I moved her last fall to a stable with less turnout and wowza…Her energy seems endless. She isn’t spooky/nervous go just go, go go.

Hank you for sharing and give Ben a :kissing_heart:.



Thank you! Favorite quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It really resonated with me as I head into show season on my older event horse who is now ready to go 3rd level. We will not be the fanciest things out there–but I have had her since age 3 and we know each other so well—it will just be about riding our personal best test. I was so happy when we got our scores at 2nd last year. This past winter, we introduced changes and this year we are aiming for our scores at 3rd. The dressage work has made her sounder and stronger than she was when younger! We still jump and will probably do a couple of events this year too—but I’m just tickled that my spicy jumping bean and I can also play in the sand box.

Really enjoyed reading your story—thank you!


What a lovely story. I got all teary-eyed.


Thank you! As you might imagine, I cried a lot writing it :rofl:

Wishing you the best of luck at 3rd level! One of the things I appreciate about dressage is that you can really focus on your individual progress from show to show. Even though dressage judging can still be fairly subjective, having that score sheet and taking that feedback into account during my “homework” between shows was great at narrowing my focus vs. feeling intimidated looking at all the gorgeous floaty warmbloods. Cheers to riding your personal best :slight_smile:


Age is just a number! I believe with proper maintenance, a good fitness & nutrition plan, and a healthy dose of good luck (and maybe Irish genetics), these goals can be within reach for anyone who sets their mind to it.

I believe that motion is the best medicine. While we certainly showed a lot in our early days, I tried to be conservative with how much I jumped Ben at home and always gave him time off after shows to recover. He always got iced/bandaged/etc. after jump schools. We were extremely rigorous with his fitness regimen, which included lots of walking up and down hills (when possible) in addition to galloping. At horse shows when he couldn’t be turned out, I would walk and graze him for hours each day so he could move his muscles. I used to take him to week-long jumper shows and only do a handful of classes because I didn’t want to jump him multiple days in a row. Obviously having financial support from my parents when I was competing so much helped make all this possible and gave me options many other folks didn’t have (like the luxury to go to a jumper show and just hack on half the days), and that I don’t necessarily have today! Even in his later years, I never let him just sit in a stall if I could help it. He got lots of turnouts and handwalks, etc. These days he sleeps in a stall with a run, but is out all day.

You know your horse best, and I think if you listen to her, support her, and give her a shot, she will take you there if she can :slight_smile:

And I can also sympathize with getting cobbled back together! I recently shattered my ankle snowboarding and just had surgery to put it back together. I’m a little nervous about it impacting my ability to ride, but trying to stay optimistic.

Thank you for the kind words!

I believe you still have time :heart: keep at it & best of luck!

Thank you for your kind words. I love hearing about “lifetime” horses, and it makes me so happy when people commit to caring for a horse even when it needs a step down.

The other horse that I mentioned in my article, Hero, actually got a happy ending as well. He was imported from England by a lady who severely injured herself shortly after he arrived. I bought him once he was stateside and the sellers in the UK tracked me down, terrified as they thought the person they sold Hero to would keep him forever.

They asked if I would consider sending him back to the UK to retire with them after his competitive career ended. My trainer at the time told me I should sell him as a schoolmaster for the lower levels. However, my parents (who were forking out the cash), agreed he deserved to go back to his “home.” When that time came, the original sellers in the UK paid the cost to fly him back, and he lived happily ever after on their estate in the English countryside, teaching pony clubbers how to bop around.


Big smile here as I read your story. Ben has taken you to fun places and made a lifetime of memories!

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Beautiful article and you write about feelings very well.

I have to confess, I first read the subject line as “First Level Goats.” I’ve ridden a few of those.

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