With Thanksgiving just having past, we wanted to take a moment to note how thankful we are to have such great riders on Team SmartPak. Today, we’re catching up with Jan Byyny, who just celebrated a big win at the Fair Hill International CCI3* with her mount Inmidair. Jan told us a little about her ride at the event, and then we asked her a few questions about her experience. We think riders from every discipline will appreciate the effort that goes into such a great success.
SmartPak: Tell us about your ride.
Jan Byyny: The cross country course suited my horse. I had a plan before I went out and stuck to it. I felt like I rode the first water off my eye; it was right there in the five. I got five to the three in the ring, and then did the three at the coffin only because I’d had a stop there the year before and didn’t want to repeat that mistake, and I knew the two out for the coffin was incredibly long so I had planned to do a tidy little three.
One of the reasons why Derek is such a good course designer is that a lot of things are on a 12-foot stride, and with terrain that often produces a bit of a half stride so that you have to really know what kind of jump you need for your horse. I was held right after the Chesapeake water, the jump judge was trying to pull me up in the water but I jumped the out before pulling up. I learned later that two people had fallen on course and if I fell, they didn’t have the medical staff to attend to me if I had a problem. I was lucky to have Jessica Hampf and Doug Payne right there. They put a clock on me and were helpful with the jump judge.
Because of where I was held, I wasn’t able to get good running start to resume, and I had been right on my minute mark so I knew I would need to make up time I’d lose getting back to speed. Lucky for me, at home I’d been doing 10-12 minute gallops with a two minute walk and then a four to five minute sprint, so when I was restarted, I picked up the canter and JR quickly went faster than he had been before we were held. From that point on we picked up speed, and were great for the rest of course. I did take the option at the log drop at 21 A/B, because I knew if I had a silly run out or fall I would be kicking myself. The option wasn’t that long, I have a great galloping horse, and I didn’t want to have 20. We were neat and tidy through the combination, and JR pulled up great.
The next morning JR was feeling really good, and was fine for the jog. I had a plan for my show jumping, walked with Phillip, and had Bruce Davidson and Kendyl Tracy to warm me up and set jumps. Bruce asked if nervous, and Buck replied for me, “No Dad, we don’t get nervous for show jumping, all we can have is a rail down. It’s not like you’re going die!” I thought that was a good way to look at it! So I warmed up with Kendyl and Bruce, and JR jumped well. When I went in it was announced that I didn’t have rail in hand. That didn’t add to my nerves, but I got a bit excited in the one stride at 9 A/B and was a bit flat in middle and had a rail. At that moment I thought, Oh my god, I just lost the competition again! I got a bit rattled for a second, mad at myself, but as I was coming to fence ten I told myself to just calm down, I still had to jump rest of course. I got a bit out of myself and had to put myself back in my box! I thought, calm down, jump the rest of the course, and the rest was great. Then it was announced I had won!
SP: How did you prepare at home to compete at the Fair Hill International event?
JB: I’m lucky to have a great farm with hills and a lot of open land where I can do gallops, and I’m also close enough to Mrs. Mars’ Stone Hall Farm to use the gallop there once a week. As far as my own fitness, I run three to five days a week in the morning with some friends and fellow eventer Jen Simmons. We generally go three-and-a-half to six miles.
SP: What are your favorite supplements to keep the horses at the top of their game for performing at a high level?
JB: My competition horses are always on a joint supplement, there are a couple I like but my favorite is the SmartFlex line – JR loves SmartFlex IV Ultimate. To keep their coats as good looking and healthy as I can I like to use SmartShine Ultra. I also believe Succeed is great for most horses, it really helps to keep their gut healthy.
SP: Which portion of the event were you most looking forward to and why?
JB: To be honest, I was looking forward to the whole thing. Every phase is a chance to do your best and show what you and your horse are made of. I think I was looking forward to letting my horse compete at his best.
SP: How did JR celebrate his win (rest for a few days, “spa” treatment with liniment and wraps, etc)?
JB: I actually took him to the veterinary practice I use, Virginia Equine Imaging, with all his ribbons on so they could see their winner in person. I also wanted to see Forrest Kent, Dr. Allen’s son, who suffered a traumatic brain injury a couple years ago. He came up from the house to see JR and me, and to give JR treats. I think my recovery has been a good inspiration for him, to help him see what’s possible. It was a really special visit and JR loved it and couldn’t stop licking Forrest to get more treats. If you want to follow Forrest on Facebook you can join at Friends of Forrest. He needs all the help and prayers he can get.
SP: Where are you off to next?
JB: Right now is a bit of family time for me. After a wild Thanksgiving with Tom’s whole family, 21 people, we’re going to Colorado to ski over Christmas and then to see my sister’s family in California for two or three days. Then it’s on to Aiken and back to horses. I feel down time is always a good thing and there’s nothing better than spending it with family. Just like my SmartPak family, they’re always there when you need them!