Today’s subject: professionalism. I’m going to give you two links to some cross-country videos, both were shot a week apart. They are of the same rider, a professional, but two very different horses.
Did you recognize that rider? Let me tell you what horses he was riding. In the first, he’s catch-riding an upper level event horse named Trading Aces, who is actually ridden most of the time by fellow professional Boyd Martin, who is recovering from a broken leg. Despite having only a few rides on the horse, he was able to get him around Rolex Kentucky four-star cross-country (April 26), and more than just “got around”, he was perfectly on optimum time and won a Land Rover Evoke for that accomplishment; show jumped on Sunday with just 5 faults, and finished the championship competition in 8th place on the horse for his friend and fellow professional.
Now for the second video.
The horse is actually Icabad Crane, a former racehorse, a stakes-placed earner of over $585,000 on the track, including a 3rd place finish in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, in 2008. The owner, the horse’s former trainer, decided to send the horse to this professional so that he could learn to be an event horse since his racing days were over. The video is not a four-star course, far from it; it’s a Beginner Novice course at the Maryland Combined Training Association’s annual spring horse trials at Shawan Downs, near Cockeysville, MD. (May 3).
(For more on Icabad, see this story.)
There’s a pretty big chasm between the two horses (one a green racehorse off the track with a few months of training, the other a high performance elite event horse bound for the World Equestrian Games) but the ride, the care, the attention and the consideration is the same for this rider, no matter what size the jumps. And there’s about a three to five-foot difference in the size of them!
Watch the centering, the straightness, the attention to balance. The correct lead. The distances found to all jumps. The smoothness of pace, the horse’s ears and demeanor. Is there any question that this rider treats both horses, widely differing in ability, the same – with respect, empathy, and with an eye toward helping the horse understand the job without force? Yep. I saw it, too, so in case you didn’t guess yet, the rider is Phillip Dutton. I think it’s fun to see riders at the top of the sport one weekend, and doing Beginner Novice with the rest of us the next!
See you at the startbox! — Holly