Verona wasn’t the original plan for Jeremy Reynolds (Dunnellon, Fla.) when he and Treasured Moments, the 11-year-old Arabian mare owned by Jeremy and his wife, Heather, made the journey overseas this spring. But a pivot in plans turned out to be a fortuitous one for Reynolds as he crossed the finish line to win the Fieracavalli Endurance Cup CEI3*160 km in Northern Italy’s Veneto region.
Reynolds was slated to compete as part of the U.S. Endurance Team at the 2021 Longines FEI Endurance World Championships in San Rossore, Pisa, but redirected when another horse at the off-site stabling prior to the competition showed symptoms requiring monitoring under the FEI’s EHV-1 protocols. With the 2021 World Championship off the table, the door opened for the CEI one week later in Verona at the site of next year’s World Championship.
“I was there to race, so I jumped at the chance to see the course for next year,” said Reynolds. “I want to race against the best horses in the world and I didn’t want to miss my chance.”
Endurance horses are carefully conditioned to peak at the right time for the targeted competition, and Reynolds conceded that Treasured Moments may have had a bit less pop at Verona than she would have a week earlier. Nevertheless, she was well-suited to the track at hand.
“The course was very flat,” Reynolds says. “It’s more of a riders’ course because there’s a lot of changing in direction and changing surfaces from very rough terrain to very firm terrain. There were lots of sharp turns, changing fields, and whatnot. It might have been an advantage because my horse is super easy to manage. A lot of changing in speeds and direction is beneficial; she doesn’t get worked up by any of it.”
Reynolds’ skillful riding and Treasured Moments’ athleticism and willingness propelled the pair to a win in this year’s ride and a solid foundation for next year’s World Championship.
“I think it helped [to ride the Verona track]. I now have more confidence that Treasured Moments is the caliber that can ride with the top horses,” said Reynolds. “Honestly, I think I had another 20 percent effort in her. Overall, she could have paced much faster if the riders in the race were going faster.”
Reynolds has known Treasured Moments since her early days on the Arabian racing circuit. He was shoeing horses for a racing stable and was immediately drawn to the then-two-year-old filly. When her owners decided to retire her from her first career, they offered her to the Reynolds for their endurance stable. Reynolds says transitioning from sprinting the four or five furlongs that Arabians typically race on the track to the 75 or 100 miles they’ll do in FEI endurance isn’t an unusual move.
“A decent number of Arabians do go from racing to endurance. Heather and I seem to buy many of them,” said Reynolds. “I would say the majority of our horses are from the track. They’re typically well-bred athletes, so we have good luck with them, personally. It saves us a lot of years; if they made it to the track and they’re sound, they have a lot of base already built up.”
At age 11, Treasured Moments is just reaching her prime for endurance, Reynolds said, which makes the road back to Verona for 2022 and beyond a promising one for the talented mare.
“Endurance horses don’t peak athletically until they’re 11 or 12 years old, so there’s no point in racing them really hard before then,” he said. “I’ve kind of been protecting her, not overracing her. This season is the first that I’ve actually put a big training load on her. That’s the exciting thing for the future because she’s just started training hard. So as long as I can keep her coming along well, the future is looking pretty good for her.”
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