Jamie Barge has distinct memories of her first time taking Grand Prix partner Luebbo to the arena at the Murieta Equestrian Center. “They had the Jumbotron by the in-gate and ‘Bo’ didn’t’ want to go near it,” she recalls while prepping for Saturday’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Sacramento. “Then a horse cantered by the in-gate and he watched the horse, looked back at the screen, then at the horse and back to the screen again. After that, he took a breath and wasn’t so worried about it. It was funny to watch his brain working like that.”
After finishing third at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Langley in late August, Jamie and Bo are the top American pair in the North American League West standings. Like most of Saturday’s contenders, this will be their first small, indoor ring outing after the outdoor season. Jamie and Bo’s last indoor excursion was their impressive World Cup Final debut in April in Omaha. As for this year’s circuit, “I plan to take it class by class, let Bo and I both adjust to the indoor atmosphere and see how it goes.”
Whatever arena she’s preparing him for, Jamie plans plenty of time to accommodate Bo’s “big” personality. “He gets really excited for his classes and somehow always knows when it’s time to step up and catches on to the atmosphere.”
A slow grooming session ensures that “he doesn’t feel rushed” and Jamie saddles up well before her ride time so she has ample opportunity to “work with him if he’s too hyped up.” Circles including a single cavaletti, in both directions, are one of her calming tactics. And then again, “Sometimes he’s really relaxed in the warm-up—we joke that he’s conserving his energy — and wakes up in the ring. I never know what I’m going to get with him and he keeps me on my toes.”
Bo’s unpredictable attitude is not much of a challenge for Jamie. She’s dealt with hearing impairment since she was very young and currently wears a hearing aid in her right ear and has a cochlear implant in her left. That makes it hard to sort out the in-gate manager’s order-of-go announcements from other show ground sounds and she has to be visually vigilant about where other horses and riders are because she can’t hear them approaching from behind.
“My hearing impairment is the least challenging when I’m in the ring,” says Jamie, who is based in Southern California’s Malibu. “I just need to make sure the clock is working so I see the start countdown. I don’t usually hear rails fall, but can feel a good rub, so often I don’t know how many faults I have until I see the clock.” She’s hoping there won’t be many of those this Saturday. Start time is 7:25 p.m. West Coast time. #FEIWorldCup #Longines #RideToParis