Caroline Martin has carefully brought Islandwood Captain Jack along from the beginning of his eventing career, and now they’re heading to the gelding’s first Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L.
“James,” a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Jack Of Diamonds—Suir Touch, Touchdown) bred by Gerard O’Connor is the opposite of her other Kentucky entry Danger Mouse—in fact, he’s the wild child of the barn. He’s got opinions—lots of them—and he’s not afraid to make them known in any manner necessary.
We went behind the stall door with James to learn more.
• He’s besties with Martin’s other five-star horse Spring Easy. “I put them in the stalls next to each other, and all they do is play and antagonize each other,” she said. “ ‘Paddy’ will bite him; he’ll bite Paddy.”
• He’s 100 percent food-oriented.
“He loves his food more than any other horse I have, but he’s very sweet,” said Martin. “He’s the kid that has all the talent, but he just wants to rush through it because he wants to get done and go home and go eat. If I had a bag of potato chips he’d eat it. He has no shame. His favorite would be his grain. He whinnies like crazy when it’s time to eat. He’s rearing and pacing the stall. You have to feed him first.”
• James is super consistent. “He always jumps, takes off and lands in the same spot,” said Martin. “He’s very consistent that way. I remember going around his first [long format four-star] at Jersey Fresh last year [where they finished second], which was his third advanced, and thinking, ‘I can’t wait to have this horse at Kentucky.’ He’s so mature when it comes to cross-country and jumping. He’s a bit immature when it comes to dressage.”
• James likes to be first. “When you bring horses in in the morning you have to bring James in first or he throws a tantrum because he wants his food first,” she said. “When you get home from a show, you’ve got to take him off first because he’s got to eat first. He wants to be first.”
• Like any gray, James takes a lot of work to keep clean, and Martin’s found Mane ’N Tail’s Spray ’N White works best for him. But sometimes, you just can’t control him, and you have to let him be himself.
“You let James do what he wants,” said Martin. “We got one of those full-body Jammie things; he’ll get it off and figure out a way to get dirty, so you let him do what he wants. That’s the trick with him.”
• James likes one-on-one attention from Martin, and he tends to do best when he’s the only horse at a competition, like last year at the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L (Montana).
“I took just him out to Montana, and we had the week together, and he grew up so much and listened so much better,” she said. “I think when he goes to big shows I’ll try to take him by himself or with one other horse. He likes the alone time.”