If you thought you saw upper level eventer and 2003 Pan American Games team Gold medalist and individual Bronze medalist Jan Byyny and her upper level event horse Syd Kent at Highfields Event Center on Thursday, your eyes weren’t deceiving you.

The accomplished horseman, and her 14-year-old New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred gelding, were exhibiting at the Progressive Show Jumping Aiken Winter Classic Week No. 2.

“I thought by coming to the show, this would be a perfect way to see where we are, how he feels, and it would be a way to have some fun,” said Byyny.

The rider/horse combination finished 22nd in their Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event CCI4* debut in 2009. Both the rider and horse have had to overcome a series of setbacks and adversity, but have demonstrated their determination, courage and tenacity in returning to competition. Byyny was working toward a return to Rolex Kentucky, but another injury would preclude her from competing in 2012. However, Byyny and the 17 hand Thoroughbred did finish sixth in a CCI3* at Fair Hill. The horseman was pleased with the results, even though Syd Kent had a considerable amount of time off, and maybe could have been a bit better prepared.

“I’m aiming him for Kentucky this year,” said Byyny.

Syd Kent possesses many admirable attributes, and the courageous, good moving gelding is extremely scopey, she said.

“The biggest challenge for Syd is the flatwork,” said Byyny. “I feel like he’s in a really good place this year, and he’s as strong as he’s ever been. He’s a great horse.”

The rider who has enjoyed success on the international level with horses such as Shared Dreams, Task Force and Waterfront, loves all the horses she’s partnered with, and Byyny says she has gained great insight, knowledge and wisdom from her experiences.

Byyny will more than likely do the Pine Top Farm Horse Trials in Thomson, Ga., with Red Hills in Tallahassee, Fla. and The Fork in Norwood, N.C. on her itinerary. Byyny’s ultimate objective is to compete at the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event CCI4*.

The resident of Purcellville, Va. will be based in Aiken until March. Byyny will be holding her own Surefire Eventing Horse Trials later this year.

A number of the horseman’s clients are with her this winter in Aiken, she said.

“I have some younger girls who are riding with me,” said Byyny. “They’re really talented, 15 and 16 years old, and can really ride. I think the whole eventing team is going to be a lot of fun this year.”

Inmidair is a New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding that appears poised to have a strong year, said the rider.

“I would keep my eye on him,” said Byyny.