Mane Stream Hotmail Finds His A Game On Perfect Footing

Sep 30, 2013 - 5:33 AM
Mane Stream Hotmail and Catherine Haddad Staller scored over 70 percent in the Grand Prix Special at Devon last weekend. Photo by Lisa Slade.

Dear Rita,

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record but I JUST LOVE the horse show at Devon. I am so pleased that the facility continues to upgrade the footing and stabling. The renovations and improvements made this venue competitive with rest of the world’s horse shows!

Devon gets my vote for the best footing in North America. And I can’t tell you how important that is to a competitor. It is such a pleasure to school and compete a horse at a show without having to think twice about his safety and soundness every step of the way. Last weekend I never adjusted my training from what I do at home. I just got on and rode my horse like I know how. I got to concentrate on the competition at hand.

Before showing at Devon, however, my frustration with the show scene in my area was a growing concern. Compared to Europe, competitors in the USA pay high entry fees and extra expenses at dressage shows, often with little or no prize money to be earned. I have struggled to adapt to this. In the past, my show expenses were always covered by the show organizers or at least by my winnings. In fact, prize money was a significant portion of my income until I returned to America.

To show up for a weekend of costly competition and have good training go out the window because my horse is sore from the hard footing or ground-bound from trying to trot on shredded tires is very frustrating. The vet bills and training pauses that follow such a show are a double whammy.

When a rider is trying to develop a horse for international competition, he/she has to choose horse shows carefully to avoid injuries and loss of training time.

Good footing at a horse show has two factors: 1) the right product and 2) the right maintenance. Perfect maintenance on a bad product will not make it rideable. And the wrong maintenance (too little/too much water, right/wrong drag, neglect or simply driving the tractor too fast) of a good product will cause just as much trouble.

It was a breath of fresh air to ride at Devon. Yes! Thank you.

My horse thanks you. Mane Stream Hotmail hit his stride at Devon, and I hope he never looks back. I am amazed at how far and how fast this horse has come since I bought him in April of 2012. I never expected this, Rita, although a part of me was sneaky and hopeful ever since the first time I sat on him.

Devon was Hotmail’s third show at Grand Prix, and the old European competitor in me was screaming: “Are you f’n crazy?!? You cannot take such an inexperienced and unpolished horse to a CDI!”

Michael and Vera Barisone saved our butts! Many thanks to my colleagues in Long Valley for the opportunity to trailer over to your place and ride the Grand Prix test on beautiful footing for those “fix a test” clinics. It was not only a chance to prepare and ride the test, but also good precedent for neighbors/colleagues to work together in the sport and the business. It is so nice to find the same level of professional collaboration in New Jersey that I enjoyed in Germany.

I keep skirting the issue, Rita. I don’t know why I hesitate to write about Hotmail’s greatness. Maybe a part of me does not want to praise the bread before it is baked. Maybe it feels like a jinx to revel in success.

On the other hand, disappointments in this sport are so poignant and often that it seems unwise to leave success uncelebrated. My horse rocks.

It’s just that simple, Rita. Hotmail has learned and developed so much so fast that I cannot even begin to describe his progress and his achievement. The horse is a prodigy.

We both had a short break forced on us when I hurt my back in March, but I am sure now that was a blessing in disguise. A little voice was telling me: “It’s too fast. Slow down. Take your time.” But the horse was never frazzled in training. Quite the contrary, Hotmail has always been settled, serious and willing, no matter what I asked from him. He has never hesitated to try harder, move faster, work longer or try again.

Hotmail is a natural athlete. And his future is bright.

Our Grand Prix Special at Devon:

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin it like it is from Califon, New Jersey.

Training Tip of the Day: Take what your horse offers. Give him back what you have learned.


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