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.
I spent two weeks with Welcome BF, as well as with students and other horses, at the Vermont Summer Festival. Welcome settled right into the show as if she’d been there her whole life. She’s proving to be very levelheaded to have in the barn.
I started Welcome in the .90-meter jumpers the first day at Vermont and then moved her up to the 1.0-meter and 1.10-meter jumpers for the rest of the first week. Our first week was really about me getting to know what she knew. She was very sensible, and her jump is solid, but I tried to keep it very simple and slow for her.
We weren’t riding for ribbons; we were riding to learn. When you’re sitting on one that has a jump like hers, it can be tempting to try and push a little, since the talent is there. It’s important to make sure the knowledge is there as well rather than risk scaring a young one.
I was pleased with how the first week went. In our second week, we did one class in the 1.0-meters and two 1.10-meter classes. I kept it a little lighter for her than the first week, not wanting to do too much and make her sour. These two weeks in Vermont gave me a great baseline on where Welcome is in her training. She’s a very powerful mare and so even-keeled that the jumps are not an issue for her. She is very brave.
We need to improve her fitness a little and continue to work on her rideability. This is not something that was neglected in her early training; this is the result of her being such a big mare. She stands over 17 hands and is still filling out and figuring out her size. Developing her is really going to be about helping her to learn control and move all her different parts with lightness.
I capped off my second week with a third-placed finish in the grand prix with Wrigley, my other favorite gray mare, and then we headed back home to Cazenovia, N.Y. Constant Star arrived last Monday afternoon, driven up by her owner Kimberly Clark. Star settled right in as the new next-door neighbor to Wrigley.
We gave Star Monday to settle in, as it’s our day off on the farm, and then I took her out for a light hack on Tuesday morning. It was a process to find a bridle to fit her. We had to cobble one together as we didn’t have one small enough for her delicate head! Once we got something workable, I started her in the indoor until I was confident she wasn’t going to launch me and then took her to the outdoor to flat.
Star did feel as though she had filled out since my last ride on her, but she still had the same feisty compact feel. She went right to work outside and is always eager to be moving. She is still a little resistant to the amount of contact on her mouth that I like to ride with, but by the end of our quick ride she was already more accepting. Star did have one fresh moment in our first canter where she attempted to throw a few bucks in for good measure, but I had to giggle at them. They were very slow-motion and polite, so I almost didn’t know what she was trying to do at first.
I waited to jump Constant Star until Friday. We did a few simple singles, then a line and a small grid. She was very game to the jumps and felt great.
Watch some of Constant Star's first jump school...
Having both Welcome and Star here together really shows their differences, but I am still so pleased with both of these horses. While they are different types, they are both so talented and fun to ride. Beezie and John come home from Europe this week, and I am excited to hear their input on both mares. Maybe Beezie will have time to sit on them and give me some thoughts.