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March 18, 2013

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

Taylor Flury is focusing on long-range goals for Role Model, rather than winning each class. Photo by SportFot

Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury, who rides out of her family's AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers Flury's 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 Their story includes brain surgeries and broken shoulders along with the blue ribbons. 

Want to know more about Taylor and Role Model? Read the article that appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse about them.

T Squared is the nickname I have given my partner, and better half, Role Model, because her barn name is Taylor, like mine. She has made so many of my dreams come true and has taught me so much in the process. Her 5- and 6-year-old years of showing were surreal, and ended with a national horse of the year award each year after overcoming difficult obstacles.

These accomplishments are even more satisfying because I have been the only one to ride and train her for the most part. At shows, Joe Fargis and Candice King have helped me. Their help has been invaluable, and I believe that the more help I can receive from all different types of people, the better I will be. Just this winter, down in Wellington, Fla., I took lessons from Dorothy Morkis, an Olympic dressage rider. They were some of my favorite lessons I have been given and I learned so much that will help me in bringing along young horses.        

I recently returned home after being down in Wellington for seven weeks competing at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. I took two horses down with me; T2 and an 8-year-old investment horse named Clever Girl. T2 is 7 this year and we decided that we would keep her in the 7-year-old division for the year instead of trying to move her up to the bigger divisions. This is not because she cannot jump higher, but because we want to be patient. Of course, my family and team’s goal is that we would be USEF horse of the year for the 7-year-olds; like a triple crown of young jumpers. This would be amazing, but lessons I learned down at WEF have taught me to look more long-term.

In the past several years, my interests have turned from showing in the “big ring” to breeding and bringing along young horses. I start all of my own, and several clients’ young horses throughout the year, which keeps me quite busy. As a result, I cannot be on the road every week competing. I love to work with the young ones and cannot wait to come home from shows to “play with my babies” because it is just so gratifying and fun to work with the horses without pressure to win.

Last year, I chose to go down to Wellington for the second half of the circuit and T2 started winning right out of the gate and then kept winning. I think out of 13 6-year-old classes, she won six; it was unreal.  

This year, I did not win nearly as many blue ribbons; but I grew as a horseman, which is much more important in my opinion. I am still young and I am a perfectionist; it is one of the hardest things to live with. It is irrational, but I always feel as if I need to go in and be double clear, fast, and in the top ribbons; I never want to let my team or my horse down. The first few weeks down in Florida, I kept being double-clean and fourth, or fifth. Now anyone else would be delighted with this and I truly was, but I thought I needed to run faster so that I placed higher. I soon realized this was not the way to think when riding a young horse, and luckily, I had Candice there to keep me grounded. 

It is not always about winning, it is about doing what your horse needs at the time. I am trying to cultivate T2 into a grand prix horse or at least to be all she can and running around is the quickest way to assure she does not become all she can. Sometimes when we train young horses, we have to sacrifice the short-term results in order to succeed in the overall picture. As much as I want to win right now, it is better to educate my horse so that next year maybe we can move into some of the bigger classes. If I take my time now, it will pay off! 

T2 is my only show horse currently—the rest are younger—and it can be hard not to want to walk in and go for the win. Nevertheless, I do not want to simply have the top 7-year-old; I want to have a grand prix horse. At the same time, this has taken some of the pressure off of me and made horse showing more fun. One day, while riding to the show in a monsoon, I remember thinking "Why on earth am I doing this?" I then laughed to myself and thought "Because I love riding and I love my horse." After all, isn’t that why we all ride and show?

Watch Taylor and Taylor in a round at WEF...

 

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