Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Olympic Gold Medalist Beezie Madden Blogs About USEF Show Jumping Team Selection Trials for the 2010 Games


WELLINGTON, FL--February 26, 2010--It’s the morning after the first Trials for the 2010 WEG, and I’m feeling great about my horses. One went clear and the other two had just four faults each. When I last wrote, I told you about Danny Boy and my newest horse Mademoiselle, but even more recently, I got another horse to ride, Via Volo, that I will tell you about it a bit.

First of all, I have to say that I’m so pleased with Mademoiselle. One of questions we had with her was how she would handle championship level courses so I was glad to see that she handled it easily, finishing with only four faults. Danny felt like he got off to a great start. He just had the last fence down, and he feels like he’s set up well for the next Trials. Since they are so new to me, I’ve never jumped either Mademoiselle or Via Volo as high as I did last night. Though they’ve jumped tough courses with other people, it felt great have them both respond so well in our first real test together.

It’s really been kind of a whirlwind lately. It felt last-minute enough getting Mademoiselle with the Trials just a few weeks away, and then Via Volo came up for sale. We just got her about a week and a half ago! That suddenly gave me three horses to ride in the Trials, for which I needed to get permission. Georgina Bloomberg was the only other rider in that position, and we both found out it was granted on Monday. And then on Thursday, Via Volo came through for me with a clear round. She is a 12-year old and by the same sire as Danny Boy, Clinton. Via Volo comes to me thanks to Allison Robitaille, who would have had a great chance to make the team herself with this horse, but decided to spend more time with her husband and young child instead of taking on the commitment of a big European tour over the summer. Alison came to us, knowing that we were looking for a top horse, explained the situation, and told us how much she believes in this mare. I have been watching Alison and Via Volo for years, giving input whenever Alison asked, and had always been impressed. But she was never for sale. Alison felt Via Volo should have the chance to shine, and that’s why she was willing to give her up. Thankfully, Gwendolyn Meyer of Rancho Santa Fe, California, who has been a client of ours for a few years, bought the horse for me to ride. I’m delighted with Via Volo so far. She has scope and can handle a big course easily and has a really good temperament about wanting to do the job. I’ve actually found that she’s better in the ring than outside it.

I’m so lucky to have owners who provide such great support. This is the first horse that Gwendolyn has purchased for me to ride so I appreciate her confidence. Abigail Wexner has been there for me for a long time now. Not only does she own both Danny Boy and Mademoiselle and several other horses over the years, but she also owns Authentic, the horse that has made so many of my dreams come true.

The next leg of the Trials is coming up on Saturday night. We’re not planning anything different in terms of preparation – we’ll just try to keep the horses as happy as we can! Last night was a great first test for the horses (I was actually surprised so many went clear), but I’m expecting a harder course on Saturday. There will be more horses competing in the class because it will include horses and riders not participating in the Trials as well. More horses will actually help me in a way because it should spread out the time between my three rides more.

Since the Trials are scored overall on faults, not placings, I’m feeling great about where I am with a clear and two four-faulters. Competition is tough though, which says great things about the depth in the U.S. this year. Laura Kraut’s Cedric is of course a proven horse, and Lauren Hough’s Quickstudy has been solid performer. Jeffrey Welles has the great Armani back. Todd Minikus, one of the winningest riders, proved it again last night taking first with Pavorotti. There is also a lot of West Coast talent in the mix: Rich Fellers, Richard Spooner, Nicole Simpson, Will Simpson and Ashley Bond. Of course, the top U.S. horse, McLain Ward’s Sapphire, isn’t competing in the Trials because she appropriately has been given a bye onto the long list of horses that will to go to Europe. As far as my own chances, it’s hard for me to say which one of my horses is best right now, but the Trials will probably sort that out.

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