Mac One III isn’t the snuggling sort. He’s more likely to greet you with pinned ears and a view of his teeth than a friendly nicker, especially if you’re a stranger.
But get “Mac” in the show ring, and he turns into a fierce competitor.
“He’s very fun,” said his owner and rider, Taylor Griffiths-Madden. “He has his own engine. He has his own energy, so there’s no kicking.”
And despite his snarky posturing, Griffiths-Madden assures it’s mostly just for show.
“He loves us, and he just doesn’t show it as much,” she said. “He doesn’t like when anyone comes in his stall unless there are treats. He doesn’t really bite you; he’ll just bite the wall or the stall guard.”
The 11-year-old Anglo-European gelding (Luidam Elite—Original Way, Lagos) jumped in five-star grand prix competition with Lauren Hough, but now he’s found his niche in the equitation ring. Missy Clark loaned him to Griffiths-Madden off and on in 2018, and their partnership solidified into a winning combination, leading to victories in the ASPCA Maclay Region 2 qualifier (New York) in 2018 and 2019.
2020 ended up being their year when they won the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final (North Carolina) and followed it up with a fourth-placed finish in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Final—East (North Carolina) and second in the ASPCA Maclay National Championship (Kentucky).
We got to know Mac while he was at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (North Carolina).
• Mac has many nicknames.
“ ‘Mac and Cheese.’ ‘Mac the Knife’—that’s what [trainer] John Brennan calls him because of his evil ways,” said Griffiths-Madden. “I call him Mac and Cheese though. He kind of just looks like a little macaroni.”
• While he’s not the friendliest, he is a blast to ride.
“His stride is massive,” Griffiths-Madden said. “That’s what took me a while to get used to him because he’s small, so I kind of don’t think his stride is that big, but it actually is. He has a very easy jump to stay with, which is nice.”
• Griffiths-Madden puts Mac in a stall near the end of the aisle with a stall guard so he can watch the comings and goings around the showgrounds.
“Whenever horses walk by, his ears go up, and he gets super excited, but people he doesn’t love so much,” Griffiths-Madden said.
“He’s good with dogs,” she continued. “My dogs are scared of him, but he’ll try to sniff them, and they’ll run away, but he’d never actually hurt them. He loves other animals.”
• Mac tends to befriend the horses he travels with to shows.
“Nora Andrews had a horse named Vagrant Z, and he’s also very mean, so they both kind of just loved each other; they were like brothers,” said Griffiths-Madden. Now that Vagrant Z is no longer at the barn, Mac’s new best friend is Audrey Schulze’s horse Castellan W.
• “He likes going outside,” Griffiths-Madden said. “He doesn’t do anything crazy, like some horses will run around. He just kind of enjoys his time out there and grazes or eats hay if they’re dirt paddocks.”
• Mac’s favorite toy is a small blue ball that lives in his stall.
“He likes to put his teeth on and scrunch it up and down, and it blows out air, so he likes that noise,” Griffiths-Madden said.
• The surefire way to turn Mac’s mood around is to give him his “soup,” which is a handful of grain mixed with molasses and carrots and a lot of water to help keep him hydrated.
“He loves it,” Griffiths-Madden said. “He just sits there and drinks it all up. He’s very spoiled. He loves molasses, so it’s just to make him hydrated, and it’s just like drinking sugar, and then he makes a mess.
“He gets that every day, and if he doesn’t get that he’s not happy,” she continued.
But couth isn’t his thing. When Mac is done, he likes to slime anything within reach—especially a person.
• Mac prefers healthy snacks. Just about any fruit is A-OK by him. Occasionally Griffiths-Madden will sneak in some cereal with his breakfast or dinner. His favorite? Cheerios.
“[If he were a person] I think in school he’d be kind of like the jock of the group, telling people what to do, but inside he’s kind of a nerd, but very sweet and loving,” she said. “You kind of have to get to know him to find that out. From the outside when people see him they’re like, ‘Oh he’s so mean,’ but I spend so much time with him I really know how he really is. He can be really sweet sometimes when he feels like it.”