The 2016 Olympic team silver medalist fills us in on the Madden’s new farm addition, why she and John believe in keeping stall time to a minimum for their horses, and why the couple’s home in Cazenovia, New York is still where their heart is. As told to Nina Fedrizzi.
When I came to work for John, he was using our current farm as a layover facility.
We were based in Wisconsin at the time, and to come to events on the East Coast, it was too long a drive to just ship into the shows. John had a friend that owned stables in Cazenovia, New York, and we could keep the horses there for a few days at a time to break up the trip, and then go on to the horse shows. That was one of the reasons why we decided to settle there.
Another was that John was already using our longtime veterinarian, Dr. [John] Steele, and Dr. Steele has a clinic 20 minutes from our farm. So that was a little bit of a factor. And honestly, it was affordable land, and we could have enough land to create what we wanted, and also the barn that was there to use as a starting point. Granted, we’ve not much left of the place that we moved into—we fixed it up quite a bit. But Cazenovia was an easy choice for our farm because we could function right away.
Just by circumstance, over the years, we’ve acquired a lot of horses. We already have Authentic, who’s retired, and Mademoiselle. We have Via Volo, who’s actually in foal now, so that’s exciting. And then we have some others that we’ve had as young horses, and that maybe because of injury or some other reason, have had to be retired along the way. Some of them have gone on to be broodmares, and some of them are just happily spending their days on the farm.
We also receive horses from other people that stay with us as layups. We have some fields we can turn horses out in, and they can live out and they have sheds to go into. But we’ve grown a little over capacity now, and more people still want to send them.
We bought 100 acres of land that was adjacent to our property already. We’ve split that land into fields, and we have one complex that we’re building that’s going to be comprised of four separate run-in sheds. We’ll have more space for storage, and a place for the vet and the blacksmith to work. Altogether, we’ll have capacity for almost 60 more horses there. Each group of run-in sheds will have four different paddocks that we can rotate the horses in and out of during the different months of the year. They’ll always have fresh grass to be on and a place to go inside when they want to. That’s something that’s important to us.
Honestly, we like the horses to have very little time in their stalls. They’re horses. They’ve evolved as herd animals, so they’re used to moving around for most of the day. They’re kind of made for that. At the farm, we try to support that as much as possible in their day-to-day care. We like them to be walking on the walker, or out in the field, or to be ridden during the day. Obviously, our horses are going to spend some time in their stalls, but a lot of their time is also spent outside.
We like them to have a nice life, like horses are supposed to.
In Cazenovia, John and I have built the house and farm we’re hopefully going to spend our lives in. We really live in the country, and it’s quiet. The people are friendly in the area. We get to travel to all of these amazing places to show—places where there are a lot of famous sites and big cities—we’re really lucky with that. But it’s really nice to see our home every now and again.
We go there and it’s very peaceful and it’s relaxing. We like that about it.