Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Olympic Gold Medalist, Beezie Madden (USA)
Welcome to my first blog entry for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Web site. I’m so excited the WEG will be in my home country for the first time, and this blog is a way to share my journey in preparation for the selection trials and then hopefully onto the WEG itself. I plan to post a couple times a month and more often during key times.
My husband and partner John and I recently arrived in Wellington, Florida from our home in Central New York. It’s nice and warm here, but for us, Florida means getting down to business and gearing up for a busy winter circuit and the all-important selection trials. These trials will determine a short list of 15 possible horse/rider combinations who will later go on to Europe to earn their spot on the team that will represent the U.S. at the World Equestrian Games. After a week of acclimating and some schooling of the horses, we began competing. I’m coming off the longest layoff of my career; I had shoulder surgery in mid-September to correct a chronic condition and haven’t competed since Spruce Meadows in early September. The shoulder is feeling good, so it is good to be back in the swing of things. The horses have also had a nice long break, which I think has been good for them. Unfortunately, Authentic, who earned medals in the last two Olympics and at the last WEG, suffered an injury in September, and it’s quite unlikely he’ll be ready for this WEG.
Thankfully, I have other less experienced (it’s hard to be more experienced than Authentic) but talented horses to try to make the team with. Both horses are owned Abigail Wexner. The first is Danny Boy who is 10 this year. John and I have had him since he was 5, bringing him along all the while with the idea that he’d be ready for the 2010 WEG. He was Best Young Horse at Aachen in 2008, was 12th at the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, won the CN Performance Grand Prix on the Spruce Meadows Summer Circuit and had a solid first-time nations cup Superleague tour last summer (his worst score was 4 faults). He’s a little bit of a heavier type than Authentic, but he’s sensitive to ride and scopey and careful. Rideability can be an issue with him, but he’s getting better and better all the time. He’s started out here in Florida much more mature and grown up, and it’s always a relief to see a horse come off a long rest well. We started showing him early here so that he could get more experience under the lights and were happy to find that he wasn’t affected by them at all because last year showing under the lights seemed to make him a little nervous.
John and I are also excited about Mrs. Wexner’s newest purchase which happened just days ago, a mare named Mademoiselle. With a lot of luck, she might be a real contender in the WEG Trials, but time is against us. With only a few weeks until the trials, I will be working to get to know Mademoiselle as best I can. She was ridden very competently by Katherine Bardis last year on a developing riding tour with the U.S. team and in some World Cup Qualifying classes, but at 13 is still untested at the championship level. She’s a thoroughbred type, which is good for me, and seems very nice to ride. The big question is whether she has the scope to compete at the very top, but we tested her well when we tried her, and feel like she has what it takes. It’s always an unknown purchasing any horse, and whether she will be ready to impress in time for the Trials is something we just don’t know.
It’s a long road to the WEG and for me Florida marks the beginning of the home stretch. Some people who know me understand that I’ve been aiming toward this goal since just about when I stepped off the medal stand at the WEG in Aachen four years ago. In reality it’s been at least that long that things have been in the works with this goal in mind. You have to think long-term when you’re bringing horses along. It would be almost impossible to top what Authentic and I were able to accomplish at the last WEG, so what I am hoping for is to do well in the selection trials and be a strong contributor to a gold medal winning U.S. team in Kentucky this October.