Behind The Photo: Eek! A Jump!

Mar 21, 2013 - 4:35 PM
Hang on! Cassendro makes sure he clears this jump with Sarah Conyers aboard. Photo by Infocus-Equine Photography

Have you seen this photo circulating on Facebook? When Sarah Conyers clicked on the “make this my cover photo” option for her Facebook page this week, she had no idea the photo from 2011 would go viral and be shared and commented on prolifically.

“I had forgotten about it, but I was going through photos on my page and found it. I always loved looking at it, so I put it up there. I never thought so many people would see the photo and comment on it and pass it on!” Conyers said.

Is it Photoshopped or fake in any way? No, not at all. In fact, the proof appears on photographer R. Bruce Harbin’s website just like this, minus the cropping.

And yes, Conyers stayed on the young horse’s massive jumping effort. She was showing the gelding, Cassendro, as a 4-year-old in the July 2011 Spy Coast Farm Young Horse Show in Lexington, Ky., for then-owner Karina Busch.  “We’d been jumping some at home, but when we went to the show, he was definitely a little bit impressed. He jumped almost all of them like that,” Conyers said. “I stopped after that jump because I didn’t want him to get scared. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. He was very careful and a little bit worried, but there was so much talent there. It was a thrill every time I jumped him. It was almost an out-of-body experience. He had so much power. He really liked to jump.”

Conyers, of Somerset, Ky., specializes in training young horses and problem horses, mostly on a freelance basis. She’s been rebuilding her business ever since a barn fire a few years ago. She worked for Busch for a year, riding young prospects. “The opportunity to ride the quality of horses that she had was amazing,” she said.

Busch had imported Cassendro (Cassini II—Cotton Eye Jane, Contendro) in-utero, then raised him at her Halcyon Hill Farm in Elizabethtown, Ky. “He’s a neat horse. That was his first time out and the jumps were a little bigger than we thought they were going to be. He was a little overwhelmed and didn’t go that well, but the picture is super impressive!” Busch said.

“It essentially shows an extremely careful horse overjumping an obstacle at his first show. This is not a style that is encouraged or fostered in our program,” Busch continued. “We made a point to go back to basics and instill confidence in this horse slowly and carefully after this event, and he subsequently began exhibiting exceptional ability and technique over the remainder of his 4-year-old year. As a 5-year-old he came into his own. Every show I ever took him to, people would comment on him and ask about him. He is a small horse, about 15.3 hands, and very catty and athletic, obviously.”

Busch showed Cassendro for the remainder of his 4-year-old year, and into the summer of 2012 up to the 5-Year-Old Young Jumper classes. At the end of the summer, trainer Derek Braun bought him, and then quickly sold him to a client, Jillian Gordon.

Busch, who shows as an amateur, balances her riding with working as an emergency room physician. She focuses on young horses at her Halcyon Hill, breeding a few foals each year as well as buying some 2- and 3-year-olds each year and bringing them along as sales prospects. “I’m very passionate about developing the young ones and helping them realize their potential,” she said.

Other great stories on this week include…

Junior Johnson Is Still Moving Forward

Sometimes, A Short-Term Sacrifice Can Have Long-Term Rewards

The Perfect Birthday Present


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