State:  New Hampshire

Breed of Horse: Standardbred

It was our first Novice level event. I didn't feel ready; my heart was in my teeth and my palms were wet with sweat. I had taken Jeffrey, my Standardbred gelding, to many pre-novice level events and had done quite well but as we were cantering along this novice cross country course it felt different. I was too nervous and Jeffrey picked up right away and quickly developed a fear of the fence judges which made it hard to concentrate on the bigger obstacles.

There was one particular jump I was most terrified of: a large, 3 foot coop, kind of like a rectangular box 3 feet tall and two feet wide. It was the width and the solidity more than anything that scared me. As we cantered up to it I squeezed my heels into Jeffrey's sides and encouraged him verbally but his eyes were on the dreadful fence judge and not on the fence. I needed his attention but I couldn't even focus my own!

Suddenly the jump was upon us and I knew very well he was going to stop. If only I hadn't been so nervous... If only he had been looking at the fence a while back... He came to a complete halt obviously more surprised that there was a jump in front of him then scared. 

Disappointment filled up in me but I had to go on. I pulled my right rein to ask him to turn around but Jeffrey had more faith in himself then I had. He was so willing and wanted to please me so much that from a stand still he leapt into the air and landed his front legs on top of this huge fence, knocking it down but making it over.

I was so terrified and worried about him I was shaking but Jeffrey wasn't. He was so proud he had done it that after the fence judge said I was clean and could go on, he took the rest of the fences without a blink of an eye. 

No other horse I have ever ridden would do the things my Standardbred has done. I have been told that he has the biggest heart of any horse that walks the earth and I believe it more than anyone. This jump was only one example of the extent of his heart. He may not be worth a million dollars but there is no other horse in the world I'd rather ride. 
Gabriella Galloway