Clark Montgomery speaks with the a Southern drawl that reminds me of cowboys in Texas and my friends in North Carolina. In some ways I wanted to keep him talking just so I could listen. Who could blame me? He also spoke with the straightforward candor of someone who has had downs (as with the injury of a top horse in 2008) and ups (as with his recent win at Fair Hill International). With two horses standing tall in the limelight we’re hearing more and more from Clark Montgomery and I expect that only to increase. It’s high time we got to know him better, don’t you think?
photo courtesy of Clark Montgomery
There are a lot of blue ribbons in your record including at the Fall Fair Hill International. Can you tell us about some of them that have meant the most to you?
Winning for me is reassuring me that I’m on the right track. Though I don’t always try to win. Early on in the season or the middle of the season you might be schooling for dressage and you might not quite offer what the judge wants or you might go slow cross-country. When I try to go out and win and it works then obviously that’s telling me I’m on the right track.
It’s all the program for me. I’m always trying to build on something. You can have those five steps forward and a step or two back. I try to go forward. If it’s going well then for these horses winning is a possibility.
Going out the first of this year I have a specific plan in my head on where I want the horses at each event. It’s not winning all the time. If I win I usually like to think it’s because I try to win. I don’t go out there and try to win every event.
Where are you based? Can you tell us what your life is like day-to-day?
I’m based at Carl Bouckaert’s farm, Chattahoochee Hills. It’s something like 2,000 acres. It’s quiet but with lots of farm activity. There’s a 16 stall barn and there’s enough going on during day within facility. It’s rolling hills and backs up to Chattahoochee River where it flattens out. There are lots of pine trees and miles of hacking. It’s a beautiful place to train.
photo via Chatahoochee Hills Bouckaert Farm
Can you tell us about some of your equine partners in crime?
Everyone is noticing Loughan Glen and Universe. They couldn’t be more different except they’re both brown. Universe is about 16 hands. He’s a little guy and a bit nippier and lighter on his feet, a little spooky.
Clark Montgomery on Universe; photo by Emily Daily
The other horse [Loughan Glen] is much bigger and rounder. He’s big and strong and powerful. He’s laid back and quiet.
Clark Montgomery on Loughan Glen; photo via equisearch
Throughout my whole career I haven’t had a specific type that I like. I like to think that I’m adaptable in the way that I ride or that I can train different types of horses. It doesn’t matter that they’re different but they have talent and heart. That’s what I care about it.
What’s talent look like?
That’s so difficult. Good gaits, jumps well. Right shape and size, not too big or heavy. Not up-side-down. It’s one of those things that when you see it you see it.
Where are you from?
From Bryan, Texas and my uncle is a rancher.
He was the first one to teach me to ride, I’d help him with the cattle. I went to summer camp at seven and did english riding and got hooked. I forced my mom to find an instructor who ended up being Meg Flemming. She took me under her wing. She evented as a kid in Virginia and moved out to Texas. That’s how whole thing started. I also rode with Jim Graham and Karen and David [O’Connor] and progressed into the sport from there.
photo by Leslie Mintz
That wraps up part I (of two parts) for our interview with top eventer Clark Montgomery. But there’s more to come including his time spent competing in England, what makes eventing so special, and some good book recommendations so you can study and get even better!