Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Hi, everyone, thanks for your continued support and for sharing your thoughts, feelings and questions about riding, competing and horses!

Today, I thought I would share some of my own personal experiences with catch riding and hope that what I experienced may answer some of your questions about it. When I started riding with Beacon Hill Show Stables in December of 2000, I was very lucky that my parents could afford to lease a very nice, experienced, older equitation horse named, Archie, who helped me learn the basics. My trainers and some of the customers at the barn, gave me the chance to flat and, even have some lessons, on many of the horses at the barn and this was an valuable opportunity.

After indoors in 2001, my family could no longer afford to lease another horse, and with knowing that family finances were tight, my trainers helped find sale horses for me to show and my parents paid some or all of the expenses on quite a few of those horses. I was just trying to get my feet wet and to earn my stripes and I was unbelievably passionate about the sport and thankful for whatever chances to ride came my way. What I did not realize or understand was how subsequent events would and or could transpire and/or unfold but, I did recognize that I had the support of my trainers, my parents and many of the customers. I loved to ride and be around horses and tried to help out at the barn whenever I could.

With the resolve to continue riding and with the never ending support and encouragement of my trainers and my parents, I spent the next two years riding mostly sale horses, and some of them belonged to customers at the barn. When the barn traveled to Wellington in 2001 and 2002 for the winter, I visited Florida for a weekend but had the fortunate opportunity to ride and lesson on the horses that stayed in New Jersey. Looking back on the years when I spent the winters in New Jersey, I realize they were building block years that helped prepare me for what was around the next corner.

In 2003, thanks to my parents financial support, I went south to Wellington, Florida, for over a month, and with the help of my trainers, got some catch rides. As it was in previous years, some of those catch rides were owned by customers at the barn. During the last week of the circuit, my trainers arranged a catch ride on a young, large, attractive equitation horse that was for sale and stabled with a New York and Wellington based trainer, David Raposa. I schooled the horse before the show during the week and was very excited about the chance to show a horse of great quality. That weekend, after winning the USET class, I got my first chance to ride and participate in the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship. That particular weekend at WEF was truly an exciting one for me!

In the late spring of 2003, several special opportunities came my way and yet, again, I must say that I had no idea what they would mean to me in the future. One catch ride that stands out in my mind started at the Old Salem A show, just before Devon in May of 2003. My trainers had secured some catch rides for me with, Sam Edelman, of S & L Farms, one of which was a handsome and talented gelding that had done the jumpers and was being marketed as an eq horse. His name was S & L Whimsey. I showed Whimsey in the Maclay class and we were called back on top! Later that summer, Whimsey came to Beacon Hill to be sold and I was so fortunate to get to show him again. At the USEF Medal finals in Harrisburg that fall, I was awarded 8Th place riding Whimsey! Subsequently, luck was with me again, and a benefactor (who chooses to remain anonymous) offered to purchase half ownership of Whimsey, and with their help and the help of my parents, I was given the wonderful opportunity to own my own horse. Unfortunately, Whimsey was injured at Capital Challenge in 2004, but my prior experiences catch riding helped my trainers to continue to secure additional catch rides for me. Without the help and support of my trainers and my parents, I would not have had so many special experiences catch riding.

Each day, I still say to myself that I am just getting my feet wet, earning my stripes and that I want to achieve my personal best. All of my experiences as a junior rider have taught me to be grateful and to look ahead positively because you really might be very surprised about what is around the next corner.

Catch up with me next time with another answer to one of your questions.
Talk to you later!

Maria Schaub