Follow Along with Joe Meyer and Harbin This Week at Blenheim

Joe Meyer and Harbin. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

It’s been nearly 14 years since Joe Meyer last competed at the popular stop on the British FEI fall calendar, Blenheim Palace International. In 2009, Joe contested what’s now known as a CCI4*-L at Blenheim Palace, which takes place on one of the most beautiful and historic pieces of eventing property in England, with the New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding, Sanskrit. The pair finished 16th individually that year.

This year, Joe’s back on the other side of the pond, this time with Irish Thoroughbred gelding Harbin (Verglas – Rainbow City, by Rainbow Quest). The 13-year-old gelding owned by the Meyer family as well as Theresa Foote raced in Ireland to begin his career before making his way to the U.S. At first, Harbin was sold to fellow eventer Rebecca Brown, who campaigned him for about three years.

“It turned out he wasn’t [Rebeccca’s] exact ride,” Joe recalled. He took Harbin out for a couple of rides and competed him at two events before purchasing him from Rebecca. “I think I was maybe going to do that anyway! I always loved the horse, the timing just hadn’t been right for us to buy him.”

Here, Joe credits Rebecca with the producing she did with the Thoroughbred, installing good groundwork and flatwork to build upon. As a result, Harbin was basically ready to step up the levels with Joe right away. The pair finished seventh in the tough 3*-L at Maryland 5 Star in 2021 and followed that with several successful placings at the Advanced level in 2022. A nearly-top 10 finish in the pair’s first 4*-L at Bromont last year solidified Joe’s notion that this would be a horse for the future — and then it all came crashing down, literally, at Morven Park’s 4*-L in October. Joe and Harbin fell, hard, and while the gelding was uninjured, Joe broke several ribs and all in all describes the experience as “that’s when I got really beaten up.”

Joe Meyer and Harbin. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Somewhat luckily, the fall came at the tail end of the 2022 season, giving Joe the winter to “rest up” and heal. This year, Harbin’s come out swinging, finishing inside the top 10 in the 4*-L at Tryon this spring.

“So he’s been great, and we’ve kind of been thinking, what are we going to do next?” Joe mused. “Do we stay home and do [Maryland 5 Star], or what do we do?”

The pair initially had aimed for Kentucky’s Lexington 4*-S this spring, but having missed that goal a new one emerged: the 4*-L at Blenheim.

“I’m very, very lucky,” Joe continued. “Theresa [Foote, Harbin’s co-owner] was keen to go for a trip. I know a lot of people there. I’m basing with my old dressage trainer, Richard Barrett, for the first few weeks. He will crucify me, I know it — in a good way! Lucienne Elms has kindly lent me her horse truck. A lot of it is who you know, and know what! So I’m very lucky.”

Joe’s making the most of this trip, planning to stay in England for some time. A handful of younger horses that the Meyers have had in training in Ireland will join Joe for some competitions in addition to Harbin’s schedule.

“He’s a lot like Snip,” Joe says when asked to describe Harbin. Snip, you may recall, was Joe’s globe-galloping partner of many years, completing eight 5* events and representing the Kiwis at the 2008 Olympics. To be compared to this legend of a horse is no small compliment. “He’s little, he’s nippy, he’s fast, he’s hot. He’s not as easy on the ground, but I just love him. He’s my kind of horse. He’s all go, but he’s not strong and I also don’t have to kick. He’s a lot like Snip in so many ways, and I think that’s why I like him so much.”

Joe Meyer and Harbin. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Joe will use Blenheim and its challenging course to determine where he aims next with Harbin. He’d love to keep himself in contention to make some squads for New Zealand High Performance in the future — “I’d love to go to more Championships, but the small about of New Zealand riders we have at that Championship level are very good. We don’t have a huge amount, but what we do have are very, very good and I’m going to have to go well against the younger riders as well!” — and he’s got the 5* level in his sights with his horse in which he sees so much of partners past.

“I think the idea is we take it one step at a time, but also enjoy ourselves along the way and maybe win some prizes,” Joe said. “For my family and Theresa and Ruthie and our staff here, that’s what keeps us ticking along.”

Joe’s #supergroom, Danielle Platt, will be taking over EN’s Instagram throughout this week to keep us up to speed with Joe and Harbin. You can preview the full entry list for Blenheim Palace — which also features appearances from other North American-based riders such as Bec Braitling, Hanna Bundy, as well as U.S. riders Hallie Coon (4*S), Katherine Coleman (4*S), Tiana Coudray (4*L), Katie Malensek (4*S), and Rowain Laird (4*S) — by clicking here. The action will also be carried live on Horse & Country (subscription or one-time viewing pass required) here.

Blenheim Palace International: [Website] [Entries] [Live Stream]

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