A Conversation With My Mother

Apr 17, 2014 - 10:20 AM
Jocko, like his granddaddy before him, is Catherine Haddad Staller's Assistant Trainer and constant travel companion.

Dear Rita,

Please don’t be insulted that you found out I went to Europe with Hotmail via social media. It was a snap decision, and there was no time amid massive and frenetic logistical planning to call even my closest friends. My own mother did not know until today!

I might have subconsciously delayed that talk with my mom. She is somewhat deaf, and a conversation over the telephone can require lots of repetition and patience. I love my mother, but I cannot understand why she doesn’t turn on her hearing aids before she calls me!

Here is an example from 2010 when I tried to tell her about meeting Greg Staller, my future husband. She had waited 47 years for this phone call:

“Hi Mom! I’ve met the man of my dreams.”

“That’s nice, Honey. Why did you scream? Did you have a nightmare?”

“I didn’t scream. I met the man of my dreams. Are you wearing your hearing aids?”

“The Mandolmy Dreams of Hades? Is that a scary book you want me to read? I’m reading a Dick Francis novel right now…let me get my hearing aids.”


And, this latest conversation with my mother, which took place four days AFTER I landed in Amsterdam, is for you! I suddenly realized as her name appeared on my iPhone that I had not told her about my change in plans either!

“Cathy? Is that you?”

“My name is Catherine. You gave it to me.” (She ignores that every time.)

“Where are you?! Are you home in New Jersey? I’m coming out there to see you soon.”

“That could be tricky, Mom. I’m on a train between Schiphol and Antwerpen right now.”

“Betrickey? Is that in New Jersey?”

“No. I’m in Europe. I just flew over with Hotmail to do some shows.”

“Why Scottsdale? I thought you were going to New Jersey?”

“No, Mom. My HORSE. HOTMAIL. He is in EUROPE with me.”

“Oh, oh, oh! Scottsdale! That’s your good horse, isn’t it?! You went to Europe with him? Does Greg know?”

“Yes, Mother. Greg knows.”

“Why are you back in Europe? You aren’t fighting are you? What did you do with your other horses?”

“No, we are not fighting! Greg is happy I am in Europe with Hotmail. We are going to do some big shows this spring. The other horses stayed in Florida. They will have a hot summer.”

“It’s always hot in Scottsdale in the summer. You can’t train horses there, can you?!”

“Mom. Call Greg. I’m sure he will be happy to explain everything to you.”

“I guess I better call Greg. But he knows you are in Europe right?!”

“Yes Mom. I’m riding Scottsdale in some shows over here.”

“Oh! I got it now! Good luck with Scottsdale!”

I absolutely do not want to hear one more complaint from anyone who was miffed to find out via my blog that I am in Europe right now. My own mother didn’t know! And I am still not sure she does…

It was a whirlwind set of decisions that had to be made in the space of 10 days while waiting to hear if I would be given a wild card for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup Final or not. Ultimately, a start in the WCF was not in our cards this year, but to even be considered on my up-and-coming horse was an honor!

Instead, the U.S. Equestrian Federation gave us a travel grant to go to Europe and prepare for the U.S. Selection Trials by competing at some of the best and biggest shows in April and May.

As for returning to New Jersey with my training horses—that just did not make sense in lieu of all the travel ahead of me this spring and possibly summer. A big shout out to Cecelia Stewart of Oak Meadow Farm in Rustic Ranches for making our transition to your stable in Florida with its fabulous covered arena as seamless as possible.

So after a brilliant training day with “Scottsdale,” I am now on my way to Belgium to pick up a Theault horse truck for this tour. My horse got wheels!

My trusty groom, Anna Pettersson, will join us from Sweden on Friday night, and then our team is complete: me, Jocko, Anna and “Scottsdale”! On a mission to leave a serious business card in the arenas of Europe!

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m saying it like it is from the Thalys fast train Schiphol-Antwerpen.

Training Tip of the Day: What’s in a name?! It’s the piaffe that counts.



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