WILSONVILLE, Ore.-- Wilsonville rider Rich Fellers and the horse named Flexible hope to cap a phenomenal year with Olympic gold in London.
“We’re good buddies just like a pet you’ve had for years and you get to know each other well,” said Fellers describing why their relationship works.
The friendship that has flourished into an Olympic partnership, began a decade ago when Fellers found Flexible in Ireland.
“I never thought when he’s 16 he’ll be ripe for the Olympics. It just worked out he’s been on his game all season," said Fellers, 52.
In April the pair captured the World Cup making Fellers the first American rider to win the title in 25 years.
They went on to win the Olympic trials.
At 16, Flexible is at the older end for show jumping.
“It’s all in how you feel, and I feel 20. He’s just like an older human in that he doesn’t maintain muscle fitness as well as a young horse so that’s been a big focus of his exercise program,” explained his trainer.
Flexible is owned by Harry and Molly Chapman of Portland who have complete trust in Fellers.
“If someone else had him besides Rich he would be just another mane and tail but Rich has a knack and they have a chemistry,” said Chapman.
Their chemistry is honed eight hours a day at the Whip ‘N Spur riding facility in Wilsonville.
“Rich has never stopped being a student,” remarked Chapman, “He’s a better rider now than he was 10 years ago.”
Fellers has brought the horse back from a broken shoulder and heart surgery.
Both times his owner thought Flexible’s days of competition were over, “They have a language, they communicate, and somehow get the job done.”
Harry Chapman will be there in London to watch as Fellers and Flexible try to get it done at the Olympics.
“I get goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s like poetry in motion when they lay down a good round. It’s enough to make me cry,” concluded Chapman.
Show Jumping in the London games is set for August 4th through the 6th.
Some 200 athletes will compete for six medals in the individual and team competitions.