Megan Van Son and Arioso spent their Thanksgiving weekend competing at Pine Top, where they finished second in the Open Prelim division. They finished on their dressage score, 37.7, and breezed through the jumping phases, delivering double-clear cross country and show jumping rounds.
Megan has done a beautiful job of developing “Arie” up the levels herself. She purchased the 8-year-old OTTB sight unseen in the fall of 2012, when he was 4.
“He had a lot of baggage from the track and me being only 15 at the time had to work through a lot of that — it’s taken several years to develop the relationship we have, but I wouldn’t trade it,” she says.
Their partnership has encountered plenty of obstacles along the way. In 2014 he had a freak pasture accident and, long story short, had to regrow his entire hoof wall on his hind leg then deal with residual issues from that.
“I was told by many vets that he needed to be retired and that he would be fairly useless as an event horse, but I could tell from his spirit that he wasn’t done,” she says.
She moved from East Tennessee, where she grew up riding with Patti Young at Young Mountain Farm, to Lexington last year to attend the University of Kentucky, where she is a sophomore in marketing/management major as well as being in an honors social enterprise program. After almost two years off of stall rest, hand walking, and therapy (including chiropractic adjustments, which Megan says made a huge difference), this February they did their first dressage show back.
“I definitely cried after the final salute,” Megan says. “I decided to just take it one day at a time to see how much he could/wanted to do. I’m simply waiting for the day when he tells me he’s had enough, but so far he hasn’t!”
He came back stronger than ever, winning his first Training level event back at the River Glen June H.T., moving up to Prelim and winning his second event at the level, Kentucky Classique. “Arie is an incredibly spirited and opinionated guy, but he loves to show off in the ring,” Megan explains.
What’s next for Megan and Arie? They plan to continue working through the winter, with an eye on an Intermediate move-up in the early spring.
Beyond that: “The idea of Young Riders is in the back of my mind as we move forward,” she says. “This is my last year to qualify and it would be an incredibly meaningful experience, but again, I’m just listening to my horse to see how far we can go. The way he acted at Pine Top, I’m fairly certain we’ve got a while!
Megan has already begun building up her own training, competition, and sales business — you can check out her website here.
Best of luck to Megan and Arie! Go Eventing.
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