Thanks to the unfaltering faith of rider, trainer, and part owner Taylor Flury, For His Glory SE (BWP, For Pleasure x Darco) has overcome a late start and hot temperament to become one of the most promising Grand Prix mounts in the midwest. The two have been begun clinching prize money at the World Equestrian Center and are setting big goals for the 2017 season – an outcome that was not a foregone conclusion.
A BWP Obsession From the Start
Taylor Flury has been riding since before she could walk, and began competing at the age of nine. At 13, Taylor grew serious in her competitive career and began traveling to Florida to compete in the Jumper ring. Her riding came to a tentative halt at the age of 15 when she had to have two brain surgeries for a congenital condition and it was during that year off that Taylor grew truly interested in breeding, particularly Belgian Warmbloods.
At that point, the family sold all of their older horses and invested in weanlings to raise and train so they could begin standing stallions and taking embryos from their competition mares at their home farm while showing the breeding stock. What began as a frustrating health pause would become a fortuitous experience that expanded Taylor’s career and would ultimately lead her to her future competitive partner.
Thanks to her extensive knowledge and experience on the farm, Taylor became a well-respected voice in the BWP community, and earned a spot as a board member of the Belgian Warmblood Breed Registry. While participating in a keuring at SE Farm in California five years ago, she connected with owner Rose Sullivan and her young stallion, Boots. While she couldn’t make an addition to their string then, the memory of the horse stayed with her until the opportunity was ripe.
Taylor returned to SE Farms in 2015 and Rose mentioned that she had an eight-year-old full sibling to Boots: For His Glory SE. “Honey Badger” had been lightly ridden as a four and five-year-old but was then placed back out in the field to become a breeding stock mare. They were unable to obtain a foal from Honey, however, and Rose wanted to see her phenomenal breeding and natural athleticism put to work. So Taylor and Rose worked on a plan to get Honey back to Illinois.
The Uphill Battle Begins
Honey arrived at the farm in mid-November 2015 after a six day journey looking a bit nervous and extremely green for an eight-year-old. During Taylor’s first few times riding her, “I wondered what I had gotten herself into!”
She was strong in the bridle and extremely sensitive to the leg, but when Taylor watched her walk freely in the field she knew there was potential in Honey; she had such an athletic, loose, and engaged walk.”The minute I watched this mare walk into my barn I knew she had incredible talent,” Taylor said. “You could just see how athletic she was.” Taylor had yet to see the mare jump — under saddle or at liberty — and she took her over her first real fence in January 2016. It told Taylor everything she needed to know to move forward, and the real work began.
After some preparation, Taylor put Honey in a .95m class, and the mare was “all over the place.” Steering was a challenge and the mare put her strength in the bridle. After months of work, their farm was making the trek to Wellington and not wanting to lose out on the time she had put into her, Taylor included Honey in the barn’s travel string.
Their second week there, Taylor tried Honey in the 1.15m class and had a whopping 32 faults — all of which were rails. “People were saying I was crazy and that this mare didn’t want to be a jumper,” she said with a chuckle. But Taylor saw something more in her, so she gave Honey the rest of WEF off from showing and just kept working on her rideability and fitness.
“As the jumps get higher, she relaxes more.”
After returning home, Taylor tried her luck again and put Honey in a 1.25m in May and she jumped clean. An idea started to form for Taylor that what Honey really needed was a place to focus her natural athleticism, and perhaps the mare would rise to the occasion. In June, they entered a 1.30m and a 1.40m, the latter of which Honey also jumped clean after just six months officially under saddle. While it seemed counter intuitive to the pattern most horses follow, it brought out another side of Honey.Taylor and Honey. PC: Andrew Ryback.
“I should preface all of this with, I know some people will see this on paper and think I am pushing her too hard. But I truly think every horse has to be treated as an individual and you have to do what works for them,” Taylor told JN. “She doesn’t pay attention unless the jumps are big, and she is old enough that her body is mature enough to handle this workload. If I ever felt her struggle, I would back her down. As the fences get larger, she relaxes more and more. She is really a cool mare.”
Earlier this year, Taylor and Honey tackled two Grand Prix classes at The World Equestrian Center in Ohio, taking fifth in their second showing in a competitive crowd. With these successes, people are noticing the change in the vivacious mare, and changing their tunes as well.
Taylor and Honey competing in the Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Center
“I do most of the riding and training myself, but we do have a gentleman from Germany who comes over each year to help me. The first time he saw Honey he told me, ‘I don’t know what you see, I just don’t see it.’ He kept asking me what was I thinking, but when he was here last October he told me, ‘This horse is amazing and you were totally right, she has big things to come!’”
AliBoo Farm, where Taylor is the resident trainer and breeder, will be heading to Wellington in March, and Honey will be along for the ride. Taylor and Rose (who is still a co-owner of the mare) also intend on pulling embryos from the mare to be used in a surrogate and keep the talented bloodline moving.
“She is a sweet mare,” says Taylor. “She really tries. She is a work in progress, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!”