February 26, 2009 — I’m on my way! Today is the first day of my week with Frank Madden. My flight from Washington Dulles Airport departed at 8:15 this morning and I’m sitting in Atlanta, waiting for my connection to West Palm Beach, Fla. When I spoke to Frank in December, he suggested that we split up the week, spending part of the time in Wellington for Nations’ Cup week at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and then the remainder of the week at his barn on Long Island later in the year. That works great for me, so I don’t have to leave my business for too long of a stretch. Plus, it gives me a chance to see how Frank works both on the road and at home.
Why did I enter the Week with the Maddens contest? There are a couple of reasons.
First, I constantly remind my students (and others who will listen) that you’re never finished learning when it comes to horses. Although I’ve been riding for over 25 years and teaching for over 10, I always try to improve my riding, my coaching and the way I run my business. In my pursuit to become the best trainer and coach I can be, I want to be exposed to the best in the industry, since that will bring my game to a higher level. Seeing Frank’s methods of coaching, as well as how he runs a top-notch operation, will help me shape my training program and business. It will increase the level of expertise I offer as well as benefit my students.
Second (and the reason I emphasized most in my winning essay below), I want to promote equitation in Zone 3. I grew up in Zone 2, where it was easy to specialize in equitation. In Virginia, hunters are most popular, with equitation classes often being used as warm up classes for the hunter divisions. I’d like to change that. I place a high importance on riders’ equitation–I want to produce effective riders who can win at the highest levels, as well as helping to develop a greater interest in equitation classes the way they are intended: as a great goal by itself and also as a route for success in the jumper ring (the reason why the U.S. Equestrian Federation and U.S. Equestrian Team created the Medal and Talent Search classes). My students are competitive in equitation classes and have their fair share of wins, but I felt the week with Frank would give me the edge that I need as well as help me to lay a framework for promoting equitation in our area.
So today is the start of my exciting, busy and enriching weekend. I’ll post updates each day to recap my experiences and observations.
Terri Young is a grand-prize winner of the 2008 Week with the Maddens Contest, sponsored by Bates Saddles, Practical Horseman and the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament. Terri trains horses and teaches riders of all levels at her stable, Clairvaux LLC, in Leesburg, Va. She specializes in bridging the gap between the local Virginia show circuit and USEF-rated shows. Terri grew up competing in equitation and hunters in New Jersey before spending several years working for top dressage trainers, including Lendon Gray. After graduating with a degree in business management from Syracuse University, she moved to Germany where she trained and showed jumpers before returning stateside to open her own stable. She is a USEF “r” judge and a member of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Marketing and Communications Committee.
Terri’s Winning Essay
According to the Bates Equitation Rankings, there are only five riders listed from my zone, Zone 3. While Virginia is known for producing fantastic hunters and hunter riders, the area is not known for producing top equitation riders. I would like to change that. A week with Frank Madden would provide me with tools to promote more local competition in equitation classes. As a full-time trainer with a barn full of teenage and ‘tween riders, I want to inspire youngsters to expand their horizons beyond the hunter ring. As a junior, I competed in equitation classes, and now as a trainer, I need to find the edge to produce winners at the highest level of the discipline. I want to expand my coaching skills to include the psychology of winning. My dream is to produce a team of skilled riders with the inner drive and confidence to compete at the highest levels. Success in the upper level equitation classes will put my students on a path that will provide access to university teams and perhaps even the USET. A week with Mr. Madden would benefit my riders and would help raise the overall caliber of equitation competitors in Zone 3.