Ebendego the 15.1-hand Arabian is not yet ready to be put out to pasture.
He's a show horse, and he was born to perform.
To 17-year-old Karyssa Church, he's her one and only, part of a horse-and-rider team good enough to make Team B.C. in the junior dressage event at the Canadian Interprovincial Equestrian Championships next weekend in Calgary.
"He's a horse who will probably take me up to second level but he's 21 this year so he's going to be retiring in the next couple years and I'm happy I'll have the chance to do something like this with him," said Church.
"He's really healthy right now but he's been competing his whole life. He's flashy and he likes to be the centre of attention."
Now in her eighth year of riding, all with Ebendego, Church was picked for the team by Horse Council B.C., based on her scores from a series of qualifying events. She and Tegan Payne of 150 Mile House are on the junior dressage team, while Sarah Sewell of Langley and Linda Poel of Lone Butte make up the senior team. The showjumping team for B.C. includes senior riders Ayla Martinoff of Langley and Lauren Crandlemire of Salmon Arm and juniors Emma Bosma of Kelowna and Alice Young of Duncan.
"I'm nervous but I'm happy I have the chance to go," said Church. "Being able to make a horse do different things besides just walk, trot or canter around the arena, it's just really cool to have that connection and show off what your horse can do."
Church said Ebendego was at his best during the B.C. Heritage finals in Kamloops in early July, where she earned her best scores of the season as reserve champion in the junior class. She competed in CIEC qualifying events in Kamloops, Vernon and Prince George, where she was part of the annual North Central B.C. Cadora Horse Show in June at Exhibition Park.
The CIEC competition, held at Anderson ranch in Calgary, starts Friday and runs through Sunday. She'll have Wednesday and Thursday to practice and get used to the arena.
Church's sister Alexys was asked to represent B.C. at the CIEC event last year in Quebec but turned down the invitation, which would have required her to use a loaner horse.
It was a tough call for Church too, about whether to accept her invitation to compete this weekend. It falls on the same week as her graduation trip at Cedars. The private school always schedules its grad trip for the Grade 12 class in September.
"I won't be missing any school, which is nice, but I won't get to go with my class to Rockridge Canyon in Princeton," said Church. "It was a big decision but I knew this was the last year I would be able to take this horse. It's something I've been working up to. As long as I come out with good scores and I'm happy how our test goes, that's all I can hope for."