May. 1, 2016

Highlighting: Christian Eagles

Christian Eagles hails from Thermopolis, WY. I was looking for a trainer to feature that did something a little different with her OTTB. She came highly recommended as someone who is not only well rounded but an all around great person. Christian grew up around horses and was guided by a horse crazy mom who always pointed her in the right direction to become the rider she is today. Her mom got her into 4H and Pony Club at a young age and then also exposed her to driving, reining, dressage, eventing and endurance riding. You name it, Christian did it. She eventually settled into the english disciplines as her main focus and rode to the CCI 3* level and earned her USDF Bronze medal as well. 

This year Christian has entered into the Retired Racehorse Project. She actually has entered in Eventing and Dressage but believes her horses should have a lot of different experiences and be allowed to show what they want to do. So Christian has been working on something with her RRP horse that you do not offten see a retired racehorses doing: Cowboy Mounted Shooting. 

Enter Bigbari aka "Buddy." Buddy is a 2006 bay gelding by Thunder Gulch and out of a Green Dancer mare. He raced a total of 29 times winning 4 races placing second 4 times and third 3 times earning his connections a little over $53k. By the end of his career he had dropped down to running in $2500 claiming races at Los Alamitos Racetrack. Christian had a different horse she was planning to use originally but felt she was a bit on the young side so she decided to search for a horse that was a little bit older, maybe not as flashy as most buyers want, and may not have had much of a chance at a second career. Her requirements were minimal...sound and budget friendly. Buddy hadn't had much interest when she found him on the Equine Racers site (see my highlight on Sarah Parlier) so she decided to give him a chance. She said, "I live in the middle of nowhere, horses are relatively easy to keep, and I don't have to sell them in order to make ends meet. Therefore my list was very short. It had to be sound enough to do the makeover, and cheap." So Bigbari made his way from California to Wyoming. 

Guns, balloons, neck reining, western saddles, patterns are all things that Buddy was going to have to learn about. Due to her location, CHristian's horses already had to get acclimated to the sounds of guns and noisey neighbors. Most take well to itl. So the first step she took was riding him in western tack and teaching him rudimentary neck reining. Next she desensitized him to the motion of shooting and the pop of a cap gun. Once he accepted the sound from the ground they began teaching him from the saddle. Balloons were next. Once she had him accepting all of the requirements to compete, they signed up for a two day beginning shooting clinic with the Wyoming Desparadoes. Christian states, " I was uncertain what would happen when I put him in an arena with 15 other horses that might be behaving erratically, but he had been good up to that point, so I figured we would be fine.
Buddy was Amazing! He far exceeded any expectations that I had. The first day he got used to the warm-up chaos, balloons mounted on PVC pipe, the sound of balloons being inflated with a compressor, wearing horsey earplugs, many people shooting in the arena with him, and let me shoot a 45 caliber pistol from his back. He boldly and quietly faced everything we threw at him! The second day we even trotted a pattern and shot 10 balloons in the correct order. Steering, shooting, and holstering the guns. I can't imagine that a green horse has ever reacted better to a new challenge. Now we just need to find some more time in our busy schedule to go out and practice." It sounds as if Buddy has found his calling!

I asked Christian what he plans were for Buddy once the RRP is over. In my opinion, this statement is the mark of a true Horsewoman, "I don't really have any specific plans for him, and I haven't decided what discipline he would be happiest in this October. I thought I would take him to a limited distance endurance ride this summer and see what he thinks. He will also probably do a bit of dressage and eventing with him. He can pretty much do whatever sport he likes best, but I'm pretty sure he has voted yes on mounted shooting already."

Christian plans on continuing to buy horses off of the racetrack in the future. She is excited to think about what the RRP brings to the table for the breed as a whole. Hoping it continues to allow thoroughbred to become more and more popular as sporthorses as they had been years ago. She hopes it can continue to bring awareness to the breed as well and it's versatility as well.

Christian does not have a website but can be reached easily on Facebook. She encourages anyone who might be interested in Cowboy Mounted Shooting to click on the link for The Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association here : www.cmsaevents.com for more informtaion.