I really don't have many good pics of him in competition, except for this one at second level.
And for those of you who do not know any of the story:
Toby is a 16.1 hand American Thoroughbred. He was slated to be a race horse as his dad was a premier stakes winner in New Jersey. I first saw him as a yearling frolicking in the paddock and told the owner if they ever wanted to sell him to please let me know.
A year later, they decided to get out of racing and in short order, I was able to buy Toby. His registered name is Arts Ruler and his stable name was then Pete. Needless to say, I changed that to To Be Or Not To Be at a friend's suggestion.
When I got him, Toby had been sat on, but had no training beyond some lunging. I spent the remainder of his 2 year old year longlining him. I had a young girl do some of the basic backing for me and she was amazed at how well trained he was once she was in the saddle. The longlining had taught him almost all he needed to know.
We had some rocky moments. Things started off well, but eventually, I did have to send him for about two weeks to my trainer in Massachusetts for some "attitude" adjusments. From then on, it was nearly clear sailing.
I skipped a few levels, moved quickly up to fourth level and worked our way through Prix St Georges, and ended at Intermediare I. Show ring success was moderate, but I don't have aspirations to be and Olympic contender, so I was just pleased to have trained him that far.
As he worked in the upper levels, he would periodically show signs of soreness in his hocks. His conformation is "level" in front, making it a chore for him to really carry himself in an elevated frame. I finally decided it would be better for him to retire from competition at the upper levels so he could be a happy sound horse for many years to come.
A friend rode him for a while, showing him at the lower levels, and when she moved away, Tucker began to take up most of my attention, so Toby became my "fun" horse.
Now, he has proven himself to be a true schoolmaster. He will do nearly all the upper level movements easily in a lower level frame, including some very nice tempi changes/three strides and two strides. His lateral work is a cinch and, as I have noted, he is extremely sensitive to the aids.
One of my greatest pleasures is to know that now, at age 17, nearly 18--I can hardly believe it--he feels wonderfully sound and doesn't seem to have any stiffness in his body. I would love it if he could reach a healthy advanced age with that soundness. To me, that would be a great achievement. I would like to think correct athletic work acutually enhances a horse's soundness and perhaps Toby can be proof of that--and proof that what I have done with him was right.
My vet calls him "The Prince" for his stable manners. He really is a sweetie and a lovely horse to work around. He does crib, but I just ignore it, although, as I've noted, I am trying the ulcer medication.