Bird is the Word is worth his weight in gold. Not because of his first career as a racehorse or because of his FEI record, but with his latest job title of “Teacher,” Bird is the Word has found a career in which he shines.
We often focus on the top professional riders with their high-dollar horses and expensive tack, when in reality, this sport thrives on the backs of adult amateurs and young riders. We dutifully pay our show fees and sign up for lessons with our trainers. We grind at work all day and get to the barn after the sun goes down. We do it all for the thrill of crossing that finish line at the one or two events a year we manage to get to.
The horses that allow us to live our adult amateur dreams are priceless. Bird is the Word, barn name “Goose”, is one such horse. Formerly owned and piloted by FEI rider and #supergroom Courtney Carson, Goose is now a part of the family for adult amateur Lauren Davis, Goose is more precious to her than any 5* winner. A dream five years in the making, the 2023 season marked Lauren and Goose’s first Training level completion and crowned them overall points champion for the Stable View Eventing Academy.
The Stable View Eventing Academy is designed to make eventing more accessible for riders of all ages and backgrounds. The event covers three days: the first day is open for riders to school the cross country course, the second day allows riders to practice their show jumping or dressage, and on the third day all three phases are judged in show format.
It’s been a long road to being crowned champion for this pair. Lauren bought Goose roughly five years ago with plans to make the move up to Training that season. Fate had other plans. Goose spent that first season bucking Lauren off and was diagnosed with kissing spine. After six months of rehab, Lauren and Goose were ready to get back to their plans… but then Goose developed anhidrosis. After another six months of trying to figure out how to manage his anhidrosis, Goose was back and going again — only to tear his hind suspensory six months after that. A full year of rehab later, Lauren and Goose were finally cleared to get back to their original goal.
“I had bought him five years ago with the intent of going Training that year, and it took five years for us to get to that goal,” Lauren said. “It almost makes it better, to be honest. I mean, the immediate win would have been great. But the four years of rehabbing just made it so much more rewarding.”
Goose takes his role as teacher seriously. Lauren can’t just sit there and allow him to carry her around. “He completely knows his job. He won’t give it to you unless you ask for it, so he’s a perfect teacher. There were many times where I ended up on the ground because I did something that he knew was incorrect. He’s not just gonna deal with you sitting up there and flopping around. But if you ask correctly, he’ll give you the right answer.”
Lauren and Goose started the season with the Beginner Novice Eventing Academy at Stable View and then moved up from there. In the course of three events, they went from Beginner Novice to Training. “Novice and Beginner Novice, he and I can go around just fine, but as he was coming back from the suspensory injury and he’s older, we were trying to be very cautious of what we’re asking of him. The Eventing Academy gave us a really, really good spot to kind of get him out there and test that leg and make sure that it was going to hold up without having to spend the extra money on the recognized show.”
“I think the Eventing Academy is just such a nice way to move up. It gives you the opportunity to do a little bit of practicing, get the nerves out, and then you know, keep on going,” Lauren said. “I also really like Stable View because they really do treat it as if it’s a recognized event. The jumps are usually technically appropriate and decorated and it’s got that environment of a recognized event. It’s just the perfect opportunity to have your trainer there with you. To me, it’s about as good as you can get.”
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While dressage isn’t either of Lauren’s or Goose’s favorite phases, they still had a good dressage ride and a great stadium round. But for this pair, the “pinch me” moment came on the cross country course. “He was just absolutely perfect to every fence. He came back to me when he was supposed to, galloped forward when he needed to. He just gave me that perfect round and it was definitely a pinch me moment at the end,” Lauren said. “I grew up riding but my parents were insistent that I was not going to own a horse. So I didn’t buy my first horse until I was 23/24 and had started eventing. And he’s only my second horse. So it’s one of those moments where you sit there and you’re like, ‘Man, I really did it.’”
Lauren is no stranger to magical moments at the Eventing Academy. Only an hour away from Stable View, Lauren has been coming here since the Eventing Academy first started in the early 2010s. All of her seasons of competing in the Eventing Academy have taught her a lot. “I think the thing that I learned the most was that taking the time and doing it the right way is really beneficial,” said Lauren. “I had tried to take my old horse around the training course and it was just a nightmare. We ended up getting stops left and right and then got excused. And that was the end of it.
I think in my head, I was still thinking this is going to be hard. This is going to feel hard. We’re really going to have to work for it. And the day of the show was not hard at all. We finished the cross country course and I was like, ‘that didn’t feel big at all.’ And it’s just because we took the time to do it right.There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the two of us could roll around the course without any issues versus the first time– which was like ‘hold your breath and maybe you’ll finish.’ So I think that to me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the Eventing Academy is that preparation is so critical,” Lauren said.
This year, Lauren and Goose were crowned end of year overall points champion across all divisions with a total of 21 points. The award is particularly cherished as their memorable 2023 season was five years in the making. Lauren says that she’ll be back next year to contest the award again. “We’re headed back there to run the training course again, and this time, the hope is to not practice on Saturday and to really treat it as a true show.”
Happy riding and a big congratulations to Lauren Davis and Bird is the Word for truly demonstrating what eventing is about at all levels: resilience, grit, and pure joy for the sport.
This article was sponsored by Stable View, host of the Eventing Academy. The Eventing Academy is part of Stable View’s initiative to make eventing inclusive to all, financially and otherwise. If you’d like to add the Eventing Academy to your 2024 season, check out the calendar.