He was hell on the track, but devilishly good on the Eventing field last week.
Fine with Me, an innocent-looking pretty gray once had quite the bag of tricks when stalled at the racetrack. “He used to stand up in his stall and try to climb over the walls,” says rider Lauren Lambert, who evented Fine with Me to clinch the 2014 USEF National One-Star Eventing Championship at the Hagyard Mid-South Eventing and Dressage Association (MSEDA) Three-Day Event and Team Challenge last weekend.
In addition to the championship, the pair also took home the Jockey Club High Point Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP) award in a landmark horse show drawing 500 horses of all breeds, and numerous Thoroughbreds. Fine with Me bested 60 horses for the TIP Award.
The talented 25-year-old Louisville, Ky., equestrian started riding the fair-haired upstart in 2011 after her aunt Margie Darling first co-purchased the T-bred in a partnership, and eventually took over full ownership.
Fine with Me
Sire: With Approval
Dam: Alycheer, by Alydeed
Foal date: April 30, 2003“When we first got him, we thought, ‘What did we buy?’ He had such a personality and a reputation on the track,” Lambert says. “But I started riding him when Margie sent him to Florida in 2011 and 2012 and to train, he was fine. He’s really smart, and very straight forward.”
After tackling a couple of Preliminaries in Florida together, Lambert and Fine with Me went into regular training again in April after she returned home from Germany, where she’d worked in a world-class show jumping barn, and Fine with Me shipped back to Kentucky from the Sunshine State.
They honed their skills at Morgan Kentucky Horse park two weeks prior, competing at the Intermediate level, and placing third out of 15.
By the time the pair charged out of the start box Oct. 18 for the cross-country portion of the Hagyard event, the Fine with Me and Lambert combo was able to tackle the challenging course with relative ease.
Noting that her horse still had “gallop left in him” when others lost their gumption, she says Fine with Me showed remarkable finesse at the first water, Jumps 4 and 5, a combination that caused many problems and refusals for others.
“It had to be reset several times because people were hitting it really hard,” she says. But not her horse. “Fine with Me just ate it up, he really did. He’s a great horse and all I had to do was put my hands down and ride him forward to the distance, and he never questioned what I was asking.”
Also a careful jumper, he put in a good round in show jumping, and though not great yet in Dressage, he is showing promise that he will shine one day in that discipline too.
After winning the championship, Lambert really had to hand it to her horse. The gelding, once so ill behaved, answered every question spot on. “There were a lot of tiny questions along the way, and a lot of forward riding,” she says. “A lot of people and horses got discombobulated and the horses weren’t 100 percent sure what they were supposed to be doing. I had to sit down and dig in and give the horse confidence.”
With the USEF championship under his belt, Fine with Me will travel to Florida for the winter, pointing toward going Advanced next spring. ♥