photo by Emily Daily
Let’s pick up with Part II of eventer Clark Montogemery’s interview with Team Three Days Three Ways. Here he gets into the special bond eventers have with their horses, how pushing a horse too fast became a formative life lesson, and how persistence paid off.
What’s your favorite thing about eventers AND being an eventer?
I identify with being around horses and communicating with them. I love the daily interactions with them. I love eventing because you’re not discipline-specific. I love flatwork and I love to jump and cross-country is fantastic too. I do love the bond that eventing gives you. Sometimes it’s an advantage over other sports because you need that bond to communicate in all three different disciplines, at least to do it well.
What’s the most important thing to you in your life?
The obvious would be by wife and my family and then the horses.
What are they like?
Jess is my number one supporter and rock that I have and keeps me going, and keeps me in check. We bounce things off each other. We’re best friends and have a fabulous relationship.
Do you spend any part of your time riding outside of the US?
Jess and I went to England for six months and were going to stay through 2012 but couldn’t figure out our visas. They were pretty strict. But experience was invaluable. I hope to continue to get over there to compete at international evetns.
Why was it so special?
You compete against the rest of sport that’s the best of the best and it’s daunting. You have time to get over that and ride like you know how to ride and not just be nervous to be around them. They treat events like just another day at the office. They compete on Wednesdays and Saturdays with 12 horses. Not that they’re not serious but over here it’s different. It’s a whole weekend and might be a month before you compete those horses again. That helped me – I always ride best when it’s just another day. Just riding some of big events you’ve heard about and getting that out of the way early on, it’s nice.
What are some of the contributing factors that have formed your success?
2008 was a big moment for me. I pushed one of my horses to make the short list for the Olympics. I pushed him too hard to make the team and we came to dead end. He started stopping cross country then got injured in the Spring of 2009. Some other horses broke around the same time and I ended up not having anything. It was time for me to evaluate why I was invloved in horses and it came down to I do this for a living because I love horses and love training horses. I don’t do it for the competition or to make a team. If I do, then fantastic, but I’m not doing it for that. If I get too competitive then I could push them beyond their normal training scale.
What about in your personality?
Persistence would be a good word to use. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to do it better. I never figure it out. With horses you never figure it out because they’re each different. I immediately evaluate and I’m not scared or too proud to switch what I’m doing. I come home and watch videos of all the competitions and scrutizine myself, though not horses because they’re a reflection of me. I see how I can do it better, always. I will strive my entire life to communictae with the horse properly.
How do you do that?
You need to get help from people who have, over their career, done that. Who have properly trained the horse. I believe in the classical way of training. I read and study on it. I look at other professionals on same path and try to see how they’re doing it and try to emulate that. The most important thing at any point is that if you aren’t doing it properly or horse is frustrated you need to stop and look at what you’re doing. If you don’t have the answer then go get help.
It doesn’t do any good to fight with them. What’s the reason? The main reason to fight is to have it better for a show. You can’t make it about a competition.
I just finished Tug of War: Classical versus Modern Dressage by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann.
That’s a great one. I just read The Complete Training of Horse and Rider and the Principles of Classical Horsemanship by Alois Podhajsky.
I’ve got no problem admitting I have definitely tried to force things out of the horses for competition. And it didn’t work and it shouldn’t work. That’s why it’s important to constantly study and to do it better.