From the time I started riding ponies, you have been my idol. I’ve always thought the world of you. I’ll never forget how nervous I was walking into the barn in Cazenovia for the first time. Driving home after our first lesson together, I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe I’d really met you. I couldn’t believe you had given me a lesson. I thought it was the best day of my life.
Since then, you have completely transformed me as a rider and as a person, in every way possible. Oftentimes people ask me, ‘What’s it like to train with Beezie?’ Honestly, I can’t even really answer that question. It’s nothing like anything else I’ve ever experienced. You’re on a level all your own, in every sense.
There have been times when I’ve gotten frustrated with my riding, when I’ve had trouble with a horse. There have been times when I’ve gotten emotional, when you have seen my nerves were getting the best of me. In those moments, you’ve been by my side. I remember when I was about to go into the ring before a U25 jump off in Lexington, and you could see that I was struggling. You looked at me and said, ‘Maddie, you got this. Ride it like you always do; ride it like you do at home. You can do it’
Thanks to you, I believe that I can.
Not just because you said I could, but because you have shown me how. Every single day.
You’ve taught me the value of hard work, humility and dedication. When I get to the barn in the morning, you’re already there, polishing your boots and getting ready for the day. At night, I’ve watched you finishing your work, cleaning up, putting things away. I’ve seen you with a broom in your hands on a daily basis. Win or lose, you come back to the barn and get back to work. You can win the World Cup Finals and wake up the next morning to give me a flat lesson. And when things haven’t gone the way you hoped, you showed me how to get up with grace and get back to work to fix what went wrong.
You’ve taught me the difference between a good rider and a great horseman. You are always around your horses; you know them and you know your program. I’ve seen you bonding with the horses. I’ve watched you walk through the stalls, stopping and talking to every horse. You are always there to take the horses to graze and hand walk. I’ve seen how you treat your horses as partners, with kindness and respect. I know you want to win and you have a passion for this sport, but you never let that override the horse’s wellbeing. You are always willing to do what’s best for your friends.
You love your horses, and they love you.
You’ve taught me that women belong at the top. I know I am part of a generation of girls who grew up watching you ride and win against the best in the world. You taught us that women are tough and capable, and if we work hard, no matter who we are, we can achieve our goals. You have inspired every young girl and woman in this sport. When you step on the podium, you show us that our dreams are possible. You’ve set the bar so high. We all work harder and dream bigger, because of you.
I’m not sure if you know this, but John told me that after my winning round at the Maclay Finals, you cried.
I can’t really put into words what that means to me - to feel like I’ve done something to make you proud, to have done well in your eyes. It’s been two years since that day, and I still can’t help but smile when I think about it. And in my darker moments, when I feel frustration or defeat kicking in, that memory is and always will be there. I know I can do what I need to do, because you believe in me. And I always want to make you proud.
You have taught me the kind of woman I want to be, the kind of strong woman of character that our sport and our world needs. Thank you for making me the person I am today. I owe you as a student, on and off the course. You have calmed me down, boosted my confidence, pushed me to do my best, taught me to work harder, and shown me what can happen when you follow your dreams.
I am grateful for every minute I’ve spent around you, watching you and learning from you. Beezie, you are and always will be my role model. The horse world would not be the same without you. I know I wouldn’t be either.
First two photos by Kaitlyn Karssen. Third photo courtesy of Maddy.
Written by Madison Goetzmann
Maddy Goetzmann is a 20-year-old American rider who has led in the hunter, jumper, and equitation rings since early in her junior career. She won the 2017 ASPCA Maclay Finals, placed second at the 2018 USET Medal Finals (by one point), and won the team gold medal at the 2018 FEI North American Youth Championships. She is a student of John and Beezie Madden's and is based in Skaneateles, NY.