Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

The Young Horse World Championships Journey: Part 2

It has been a crazy few weeks and first off let me say the biggest thank you to everyone who has helped make this dream of mine come true. Really I could not have done it without all of the support everyone gave.

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It has been a crazy few weeks and first off let me say the biggest thank you to everyone who has helped make this dream of mine come true. Really I could not have done it without all of the support everyone gave.

While I may not have fulfilled my exact dream of going to the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses and bringing home a gold medal I am still so proud of my horses and the AliBoo Team. And now we will move on to working harder and one day bringing home that gold medal.


My crew at the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses.

Our first order of business was the FEI Young Horse jog on Wednesday morning and I planned on being there bright and early to do it when it was quiet. It has been a long time since I jogged for an FEI class. I am proud to say and don’t think I am being biased when I tell you that both my horses jogged perfectly and were some of the best behaved horses at the jog.

It was quite terrifying as I walked Minnie up to jog and a stallion got loose from the handler while being jogged and ran out of the ring. They did have a stallion line and a mare and gelding line, but the mare and gelding line was so long that it was backed up to the ring where the stallions were jogging.

Thankfully, the stallion was caught pretty quickly and no one got hurt. It is amazing the amount of stallions that were at Zangersheide, I have gotten so used to showing in the United States where we are the anomaly when we roll in with four stallions and people think we are crazy. Everywhere you turned in Europe there were stallions; I would not be surprised if one-third or more of the 800 horses there were stallions and people just took it as an everyday occurrence. 

Speaking of 800 horses, that is how many had to jog Wednesday morning over the course of three hours. Let me tell you it was a sight to behold just watching horses pour out of the barns.

Catania Saflo Z (Minnie the Mouse), the mare I had originally only planned to take was a little stressed with the trip and was not her usual self when we arrived at Zangersheide. During the first two days of qualifiers she had one cheap rail in each class. This was quite sad and disappointing as she has only had one rail down all year and she really only barely touched the rails at Zangersheide. As such, she did not make it into the final because they only took the horses that were double clear; there were 45 double clear out of 226.


Minnie jumped well, but wasn’t at her best, even though we finished fourth in the consolation class. Photo by Sportfot

Since she did not make the final she went into the consolation class where there were about 162 entered. 162 5-year-olds in a timed first round format (Speed class); it was crazy and I went 42nd. There were a few inside turns and leave-out options that made me a bit nervous, but my sister and I agreed that I would decide when we got in the ring what to do.

Well, as I landed off jump 3, I just naturally turned inside to the oxer-vertical two-stride and at the moment remembered thinking, “Well I guess we are going inside and we are going to make this happen!” (haha). I have to be honest I don’t think that I have gone that fast in a long time. Minnie was back to her usual self and on it; she was amazing.

Watch her round…

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When I left the ring I took over the lead by 4 seconds and we were not even crazy fast—she is just so naturally fast and everything came up perfectly. Sadly, we ended fourth when the class finished; and were only beaten when the last 10 horses went and the top four horses were all within 1 second of each other. Looking back, I am so proud of how she was and I really just wanted a good round to finish after she was a little “off” earlier in the week. 

Yes, I could have taken more chances and maybe gone faster, but then I remind myself it was a great round and I am hoping to keep building her for the future. Plus we got a ribbon, which not everyone could say the same about so that was mega cool.

Carrasca Z (Hank) was as usual his amazing self. He handled the trip beautifully but was a little mad that the quality of hay in Europe was not his normal delicious alfalfa hay (they do not have alfalfa in Europe). Regardless of the hay, he managed to turn in two clean rounds during the qualifiers with .2 seconds of a heartbreaking time fault in the second qualifier.

The second day I did all the inside turns and the correct strides, but according to those watching he was just jumping so big that is where we lost the time. He jumped phenomenally the second day and I know that we never know the future and it is a long way away but I really think we will see him in the international arena one day if everything goes to plan.  


Carrasca Z, or Hank, showing just how good he is. Photo by Sportfot 

I am a perfectionist and grew up with the mantra that time faults are absolutely unacceptable so I was quite mad at myself. Hank deserved more than anyone to be in that final, he truly is an exceptional horse in all ways and I think he would have made it to the final jump-off, but it was not meant to be. It was a hard lesson for me to learn as well because I haven’t had a time fault in so long; I think I took that for granted a bit, and you cannot ever do that. 

At the same time though, he continued his record-setting ways and became the first ever U.S.-bred approved stallion with Zangersheide with high commendation from the stallion committee. This was based off of his conformation, movement, and his rounds turned in during the World Championships.

This really is an honor not only for Hyperion Stud, who bred him, and AliBoo Farm, who has owned him since he was a weanling and since developed him through today, but for all American breeders. We have really high quality horses here in America that we are breeding and if we can just continue to develop them properly it will be an amazing thing. I think people at Zangersheide really took notice of the fact that this was an American-bred and developed stallion. Luc Tilleman, the owner of the famous stallion Toulon and one of the judges for the stallion committee, really had great things to say about Hank and was very impressed by him.             


Hank after his Zangersheide stallion approval.

The experience at Zangersheide was both amazing and educational; as well as exhausting. The trip there took 24 hours and on Tuesday after we finished showing it took the horses and me 24 hours to get home. I think we were all so excited to get home back to familiar surroundings and get a rest.

Hank and Minnie have totally earned the next few months off and one of the most rewarding aspects of this trip to me was really being able to confirm that my two horses were qualified and talented enough to be there. I don’t think they were over-faced at all and I think they could have won it all were it not for a few little stupid mistakes.

People always think that we don’t have the same quality or rideability here in the States but I completely disagree. We have the talent and the horses but I think we are still refining our development process here (more on that in another blog), but we can compete no doubt with horses from the other side of the pond.

However, what is most unique and amazing about this show and a concept that I think is much better understood in Europe is that they really bring the riders and breeders together. In Europe the breeders really understand that they need the riders and they have to know what the top sport is looking for.

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On the flip side the riders in Europe know that without the breeders they will not have the quality of horses they need. By hosting the World Championships for Young Horses at the same time as a foal auction with 60 top foals chosen out of over 400 and the stallion approvals, Zangersheide accomplishes this feat of bringing world class riders and breeders together and putting both on center stage during the course of this week.

I wish we could do something like this in America but I think we need to get people more interested in young horse development in order to make that happen. In Europe the top riders will buy foals at these auctions because they know they have someone to start them and they are looking to the future. I am not sure the riders in our country have the same philosophy just yet.  

I had a lot of people ask me how the competitions differed and there were a few ways. I was a bit worried about the schooling ring or paddock as they called it because you could only go to the left, it was small but packed with horses and there was only one oxer and one vertical that were shared by everyone.

In the ring, I don’t think the courses were much different than what we have here, although each day they were very smooth and flowing. They were designed to not trick or trap any of the horses while at the same time asking questions to ensure the best came out on top.

The fence heights were maybe a bit bigger than here in the states for comparable age groups and the final day was definitely bigger than anything our 5-year-olds jump here. However, this is the World Championships for Young Horses and shouldn’t it be bigger and tougher?! I think that if your horse is developed properly they won’t have a problem or be over-faced when asked to jump around this bigger course one time at the end of the year.

Here’s one of Hank’s rounds…

It was incredible to see the quality of young horses at this show and to go home knowing that I have two really awesome horses, with a barn full more at home that I can work on developing to be just as amazing. I will not lie and say I wasn’t nervous going to this show, but I couldn’t have asked for two better partners in Hank and Minnie to be right there with me always having my back.  

As a rider and breeder who develops horses it was really encouraging to know that I am on the right path and to see it all coming to fruition. Furthermore, both of my horses were in loose ring snaffle bits with no martingales and this was quite unique, but I want to develop horses that are very rideable without all of the “equipment.”

I knew that when I had Role Model people would see it as I got lucky developing that one horse, and it made me want to work 10 times harder to prove to mostly myself, but also others, that I can do it—that I can develop horses for the top of the sport—and this was one level conquered on my quest to achieving that goal.  

Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury rides out of her family’s AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers, specializing in bringing along young horses. She also runs AliBoo’s breeding program. Flury’s former top mount is the U.S.-bred Role Model (Roc USA—Darling Devil), who claimed U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year titles in 2011 and 2012 in the 5- and 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions and won at grand prix.  

Read all of Taylor’s blogs here.

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