“Some of these horses appear in my life and it’s an instant match,” said Erynn Ballard (CAN) of new mount Game Over.

“He goes the way that I like. He’s forward. He’s a little spicy. He has a big opinion. And honestly, I just adore him.”

Ilan Feder Stables’ resident rider took over the reins on the 12-year-old German Warmblood earlier this year. The pair had contested just three FEI events prior to making the trek from Wellington, FL to Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC last week. You’d never know it from their performance, though.

On Sunday, Ballard and the chestnut gelding captured their first Grand Prix win in the two star division at tbird’s MLSJ Canadian Premier tournament with an effortlessly smooth and speedy jump-off track, edging proven speed combo Conor Swail and Casturano out of the top spot by nine hundredths of a second.

“You have days where everything goes your way,” smiled Ballard.

“I liked the course when I walked it. I thought it was quite suitable for him. The tight time allowed also suits him. With him, his feet always need to be moving, so you ride every round like it’s a speed class.”

The victory is Game Over’s biggest to date. His previous career best result was a 2* win at the 1.35m height with France’s Daphne Ratzel. With Ballard, the gelding has a 67% clear round rate at 1.45m, but over just three rounds, according to Jumpr App.

“He doesn’t have so much experience going fast. So the more he learns it, the better he gets at it,” continued Ballard. “But he’s naturally fast. He doesn’t even have to go as fast as the others or do as few strides and he’s already faster. He’s just light in the air. He’s light off the ground. He’s really agile.”

Ballard plans to move Game Over up to the five star division this week at tbird’s Odlum Brown BC Open. While it’s still early days for their partnership, she has high hopes for the horse.

“You know, we’re always looking for that second horse. [My top horse] Gahkir has to do so much all the time. We rely on him for so much and he always steps up to the plate and he always gives us a result. But how nice for him would it be to have two horses so that he doesn’t have to be the one that we rely on all the time?

“And it just shows how hard it is to get that horsepower and keep that horsepower. But when you have a horse that makes you feel like you can fly, you already are ahead of the game.

“I feel like this horse can make me fly.”

©tbird/Mackenzie Clark
©tbird/Quinn Saunders