While the schedule might seem grinding and relentless to some, Shipley thoroughly enjoys his life on the road. “I've seen more of the world than I ever would have if I hadn't done this. I really like to travel, even though it's not like we're going there as tourists. We're usually just seeing a horse show and a hotel! There have been some places where we've had a little bit of time and have been able to go and see some sights, but not all the time,” he said.
During the awards ceremony for the team competition at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Shipley stood holding Authentic quietly as Beezie climbed the podium for her gold medal. He patted Authentic, then whipped out a camera and snapped a few pictures of the moment.
“Both of the Olympics Games were pretty amazing. To stand in the middle of the awards ceremonies and hear our national anthem play is pretty cool,” he said.
Shipley carried the lessons he learned in the harness racing world to the show jumping rings, and after almost two decades at the top levels, you’d think he would’ve seen it all. But he’s always got his eyes open. “You meet a lot of people and see a lot of different things and ways of doing things everywhere you go. If you ever think you know everything, you're in trouble. You can always learn something,” he said.
The one thing he hasn’t learned, however, is riding. He careened around on some ponies as a kid, and he’s occasionally swung a leg over a horse at the Maddens’. But he keeps his feet firmly on the ground for the most part. “My job is to make sure they're sound, happy and fit and let Beezie worry about all the rest,” he said.
This is the third article in a weekly series about barn managers and grooms. Every Wednesday in July we'll publish a story about one of these invaluable behind-the-scenes employees. Learn more about what it takes to get top professionals into the show ring while everything runs smoothly at home.