Callie Schott, who works for John and Beezie Madden at their John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, N.Y., is letting Chronicle readers have a behind-the-scenes look at the Breeder's Bridge to High Performance contest.
Our three months with Constant Star and Welcome BF are wrapping up, and I am sad to see them leave. Star still has a couple of weeks more with us, but Welcome headed back to California, and I had to stop to reflect for a moment on the change in her over such a short amount of time.
In the beginning, Welcome’s biggest flaw was also what drew John, Beezie and me to her. She had the power you want to see in a grand prix horse. Her strength reminded us of many successful horses we’ve had in our barn, similar to Judgement ISF, Crème Brule and Cortes C. This power also showed on the landing side of jumps, where her greenness showed in her lack of ability to collect and use herself efficiently from a shorter stride.
I’ve spent a large amount of our time developing her flatwork and methodically building on gymnastic work, allowing repetition to be the teacher. I've noticed a big difference in this last month of work. She has started to land and think about rocking back and balancing herself on her own. This has helped her carefulness to the jumps. Where she originally relied on her strength and bravery to negotiate a course of jumps, she now has a new level of finesse that will help her as the courses get more technical.
Welcome’s time here also included quite a bit of work out on our grand prix field. The openness with the varied terrain and variety of jump materials was a new experience; one that will hopefully benefit her as she continues her career. She was very game for new jumps, but the open space at the beginning was a bit distracting. By the end of her three months, she was quite solid working out on our field and that, coupled with her experiences at the Vermont Summer Festival and Kentucky horse shows should lay a good foundation for jumping in a multitude of venues.
In the last few weeks, I did a few rides with John and Beezie supervising where we mixed the flatwork and the gymnastics work with single fences, which helped teach her to keep her shape over the jumps and continued our collection work. Here’s a video of one of our last rides—if you listen closely you can hear John and Beezie training in the background.
Welcome’s level is now at the point where she can show regularly and begin to move up the levels. Developing a potential grand prix horse is hugely expensive here in the United States, but luckily her owners’ Branscomb Farm in California is located close to numerous show circuits where Welcome can continue her education without the expense of having to travel far for a winter circuit. I think that this is often one of the biggest obstacles to the North American-bred jumper horses—having enough shows that offer inviting courses, good footing and a variety of materials at a reasonable cost.
While I’m sad to be wrapping up the Breeder’s Bridge contest, I am very happy to have had this time on Welcome BF. I am especially thankful to K.C. Branscomb for entering her in the contest and trusting our program with her for these past three months and to John and Beezie for their constant advice and training. I’m sure I’ll be seeing Welcome again down the road and that her future will be filled with success!