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Right and opposite left: Fric and Frankie competing at Galway Downs last November before his eye removal surgery. Photos by Amy McCool Below: The pair at Galway Downs in March 2010. Photo by Sherry Stewart

MOVING UP “In the very beginning, I wasn’t sure if Fric was the horse

for me,” Frankie reveals. “But my coaches believed that Fric would be something special and they were right.” Frankie says that Fric took care of her a great deal in the

first months they spent together. Eventually, the question about whether he was meant to be her long term partner was answered when they formed that special bond only a well-matched horse and rider can have. “He taught me so much in the beginning,” she explains. “We grew up together. Fric means the world to me and I truly couldn’t imagine not having him. On my worst day, Fric makes me smile and that is what a great horse should do.” It wasn’t long before Frankie and Fric began their rise up the levels of eventing. According to Frankie, Fric generally found the transition between levels relatively easy and took everything in stride. Dressage, she says, has always been the most challenging phase for Fric, but his fluid paces and agreeable demeanor made even the pair’s most difficult discipline look easy. ”While dressage has always been a struggle, even in

his younger years he handled it quite well and frequently sat atop the leader board following the first day of competition. He doesn’t love doing flat work but we are able to manage.” The jumping phases, however, were a different story. “Fric truly loves to jump. He truly taught me everything.” Frankie says that Fric excels in both cross country and

show jumping and was often ready to move up to the next level before she was allowed to because of her age. A rider must be 14 to compete at Preliminary, 16 to compete at Intermediate, and 18 to compete at Advanced. The

age requirement turned out to be an unexpected benefit however. They were able to gain more than enough experience at each level thus allowing them to compete safely and successfully at the each progressive level.

A HARSH PROGNOSIS All too soon, the success the pair enjoyed faced a new

challenge. Eight years ago, Fric suffered an injury that nearly ended his eventing career. “I was bringing Fric in from the pasture one day and I noticed a very strange white line in his right eye,” Frankie explains. “My coaches looked at it and no one had ever seen anything quite like it.” Unsure of what could be wrong with

the eye and with no improvement over the following days, Frankie and her trainers made the decision to take Fric to an equine ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t able to give Frankie the positive prognosis she was hoping for. “He broke the news to me that Fric had suffered some sort of trauma to his eye,” she recalls. “He said

it could have been something as simple as a bug flying into his eye and slicing his cornea just the right way. He explained to me that Fric’s eye would form a cataract and that he would lose all vision in that eye…which he did within a few months.” When horses lose their vision, they either adjust very

well to the change or adjust very poorly, with few landing in the middle. Unsure of which end of the spectrum Fric would fall on, Frankie and her coaches made the decision to keep him in work and see what happened. Luckily for Frankie, Fric handled the transition from vision in two eyes to one relatively well with just a few challenges popping up along the way. “There were a few months while he

Warmbloods Today 15

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