Besides supervising lessons, John Madden's main job is to keep the horses healthy. Scheduling is a big part; making sure that each gets the work needed to stay in shape, and also to peak for key competitions. The jumps practiced here are three to four feet high, 'small' by grand prix standards. Madden says they're low enough that the horses don't get worn out by working at this height. The field itself is also meticulously maintained. It was recently aerated to make it more cushiony for the jumpers. John Madden says keeping the horses healthy is a full-time job. "It's not like an automobile. I hear these nascar guys talking about how difficult it is to have their second car right...well try having something with no replacement parts," John Madden says. The morning's rides are under the watchful eye of Authentic, the horse Beezie rode in the past two Olympics and for several years on the show jumping circuit. He's now at leisure with an official retirement planned at a big horse show in Ohio this fall. John Madden calls Authentic one of the greats, having won several medals at more than one game, a true accomplishment. Besides jumping big, the horses have to travel well, and not be distracted by crowd noise. "You know the Syracuse Invitational was very good for that, the crowd was very enthusiastic and really on top of the horses there," Beezie says. So now, it's down to the waiting. The short list will mean the London games, unless there's a last minute emergency. "Yeah, I was hoping I'd for sure make more than one Olympic team, and three would be nice," Beezie tells us.
You can follow along at John Madden Sales, and also the US Equestrian Federation websites, and we'll keep you up to date here, as well.