“I would say that Aachen was a huge break through for me. Particularly the Nations Cup, the double clear there because I had been kind of, since 2010 when I went to the WEG to watch, focused on that being my dream. Then when I got Barron, it became my goal. We had backtracked from 2014 to prepare accordingly.”
“That was the culmination of all our hard work and preparation and it gave me the confidence that if I was selected I could really do it. Aachen is such an incredible environment and the pinnacle of the sport. To have that success in that environment was also a personal highlight. The WEG was also a highlight. Another incredible environment and to have that success at the WEG was also a big highlight for me.“
How do you feel differently as a rider after representing Team USA at Aachen and at the Alltech World Equestrian Games?
“I had done Nations Cups before. I did my first Nations Cup when I was 18 years old in Falsterbo with Nimo, so I had kind of always been a little bit in the game but as a young rider, as an inexperienced rider. Even my first Nations Cup with Barron in Rotterdam, I was on the team with Beezie, Laura and Lauren and I was the young person.”
“Even though I was still the young person at the WEG and at Aachen, I felt in myself less the young person. Even at Aachen, I felt prepared and that I was capable of doing it. That I wasn’t there to get experience but that I was there to perform so that was the big difference between last summer and the summer before. The summer before I was just trying to get on as many teams as possible, get as much experience as I could so that I could get to that next point the following year. “
You’ve ridden with Marcus Beerbaum for a number of years. What makes Marcus unique and how does he compare to anyone else in the industry?
“Well Marcus is one of those people who have horses in their blood, in his family’s blood. He and Ludger grew up working with horses and amassing a huge depth of knowledge on the sport, on horses and pretty much everything that encompasses our sport.”
“So working with Marcus has been amazing over the past five years because he is able to give me advice on every aspect of the sport. Not just training, which he has a very specific system that he sticks to and that works really well. There is that that he has shared with my horses and me over the years but he has also stood at the back gate of major championships with me and been able to share and understand what is required at the moment.”
“Over the years, as we have progressed, it has become more about the intricacies of the sport and about management. Helping me at places like Aachen, getting me in the right place, not just physically prepared but mentally prepared. I mean Marcus has dedicated his whole life to this sport and he loves it and you can tell that. He has a great energy towards it and I am very fortunate to have spent the time I have with him.”
Is there anyone in the sport that you really admire and why?
“I don’t know if there is a particular person. There are people that I admire for different reasons. There are people that ride incredibly well. You can throw out the big names like Ehning and Ludger and obviously I love to watch riders like them ride. I guess if I had to choose one person right now that is intriguing to me it would definitely be Scott because he has been No.1 and he’s young, which is something that is inspiring for me as a young rider. He has been able to accomplish so much in a short period of time. I think his mental approach to the sport is incredible. The way he handles himself in the ring and under pressure is just not normal.”
“I think sometimes I’m too much in my head sometimes about everything in life so I love to look at people in other sports.”
“I have idols in other individual sports, in Tennis I love Nadal and Federer. There is a female skier named Mikaela Shifferin, she is this young superstar, I read about her all the time. I read Agassi’s book too. I would say in our sport, I admire a lot of riders, even at WEF people like Eric and Laura and people who are just magicians but I think Scott, in terms of my relationship with the sport, is really intriguing to me at the moment.”
You won Bronze with Team USA last year at the World Equestrian Games. What was it like training with Kent Farrington, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward?
“Honestly, I thought that it was one of the best teams I’ve ever been on. Just in the Team environment, I thought that everybody worked so well together. We obviously have different systems and styles but there is a level of attention and work ethic that I think all three of those riders have that is unparalleled. In terms of personally, I felt so supported by them. They never treated me like I was the baby or the young rider. They expected nothing less than a clear from me and especially with hurting my hand a week before. They could have said a lot of things to me that could have been negative but they didn’t.”
“Mclain contacted me the next day, saying they were rooting for me and that they would all see me next week at the training camp. They made me feel so much better about hurting my hand.”
“At the actual competition, they were all incredibly supportive of me. I can’t thank them enough for that because they made my job super easy. They were all so supportive that all I had to do was go in a ride and I think our team dynamic; we blended really well together. We had no drama or unnecessary stuff, which happens a lot with teams in riding and other sports. “
“It was a really big learning experience for me. Just to see them prepare their horses and prepare mentally themselves.”
What was training camp like?
“Training camp was pretty much like it is when your stabled together with fellow riders. I think once you get to that point, you know the best way to get your horse to the ring so its mostly observing each other, offering moral support, going to team dinners, team gym sessions.”
“It was more of a bonding session for me. I think before the WEG we all got along really well, but after training camp we really shared an incredible team spirit.”
“I absolutely share a special bond with Beezie, McLain and Kent after the WEG.”
“I could ask them anytime for their thoughts or get their perspective on something professionally, but also personally because I consider all three of them good friends.”
How would you describe each rider individually, after experiencing the WEG with Kent, McLain and Beezie?
“They are three riders that are physically strong and mentally strong. They all know when to be focused and when to relax. I think the way they approach a big event like the WEG also demonstrates why all three have had such sustainable careers. They are all intense in their own way.
“What was consistent between all three of them was that they manage not only everything about their horses but also their mental approach to everything extremely well.”
If you could describe yourself and your WEG Team mates in one word, what words would you choose?
“Well, for Beezie I would stick with “stoic”. I would say McLain would be described as ”undaunted”. His last day with Rothchild when he rode double clear to finish fifth, that was just incredible to watch.”
“Both he and Rothchild were just fighting for it. Kent’s word I would say “centered” because he is completely centered on his task. I would say the word that best describes me would be “motivated”. I was obviously motivated to be part of that team for the WEG but then also very motivated following the WEG to do more Team events because of my experience at the WEG.”
“I would say Rothchild would be described as a “fighter. I would say Barron would be described as a “freak”. I think Cortes is just “flawless”, he is truly a faultless horse. Voyeur I would say is “froggy” [Laughing]”
Do you feel the Olympic Games is within your reach?
“Yes I think the Olympic Games is within my reach. It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, but it has been a goal of mine since London. I did the Olympic Trials with Nemo for experience and I hoped then that I would be ready in four years time to be a candidate and I think the WEG was a big step forward for me in that direction.”
“I think I have a great horse, he really is a “freak”. I think if I play my cards right, keep everyone healthy and happy and consistent than I could have a shot at Rio. But you never know really. Keeping healthy and keeping consistent is not as easy as you would think.”
You are part of the next generation of US show jumping. What do you think are the unique challenges that face this generation?
“I think that the US system, starting with ponies, moving to equitation and hunters, has been in a way fantastic and in a way maybe not so fantastic. I think the way we grow up doing everything so specifically, I think there is an element that shouldn’t be taken away.”
“Riders are still at school when we are young, and I think that it is important. I obviously am a firm believer in going to school and riding. It is possible to do both and you can do it but to do it you need help because you can’t ride everyday. As the new generation starts to grow, as individual and professional riders, I think becoming more of a professional is more of a challenge.”
“Being involved in the whole process that relates to your horses, not just the show ring is important. I think being respected as such and taking on certain responsibilities such as your horses and the management of those horses. To act ourselves as professionals, to treat the sport as professional sport, because it is and to give the sport the dedication it deserves. And in turn to be treated as such a professional is one of our generations challenges.”