Theodore O’Connor! (here 3rd at Rolex 2007)
Many thanks to Dee Lee for the picture – since we last linked to her post when we used her beautiful photo of Kim Seversen and Winsome Adante at Rolex, Dee has received a very exciting commission,
“I am very excited and honored to be painting the colt of Rachel Alexandra and Curlin. This painting will be auctioned off with the proceeds to go to Barbara Banke’s cancer charity of choice. As we have both lost husbands to cancer, I am hoping it will be very special.”
Congratulations, and thanks again to Dee, and we look forward to sharing more news, and maybe pictures as we hear them.
I was also able to catch up with super-groom Max Corcoran who looked after Teddy at both his Rolex’s (3rd and 6th) as well as throughout his competitive career with Karen O’Connor, which included an individual and Team Gold at the Pan Am Games in 2007, and of course Max has looked after many other horses before and since at Rolex, and all over the world as the lynch pin of the O’Connor Event Team Stables. We chatted briefly as she was making her way back to Ocala from Wellington, Florida with four horses where they’d been show-jumping for a week, and she very kindly shared some of her memories of taking care of Teddy at Rolex,
“The first year Karen took Teddy to Rolex (2007 when they finished 3rd) it was a pretty big deal because she was already a little bit under scrutiny for running this pony at Advanced, even though she’d done two three stars with him. In the lead up to Rolex he won the CIC at the Fork, but had a run out at Red Hills and Karen was still debating whether or not to do it; the pressure was pretty intense and all on Karen because at the end of the day if things all went right she’d be a hero, but if something went wrong it was going to be pretty tough on her. We were really, really careful to make sure he was very fit, I would do a lot of trotting on him, and in 2007 he actually won the Fitness Award which was nice, but it was definitely a big deal for him to be there. Teddy didn’t know the difference though, he’d been to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Kentucky Classic and other events before, he was a pretty cool dude and laid back and would just be like, ‘Come pet me, I’m the man!’. He loved eventing, and never came off his feed or anything like that. He was wildly confident, unlike me! It was a little nerve-wracking because both years Karen started out first across country, and in 2007 it was fairly tough, it was actually a lot bigger than it was the following year in 2008, so it was big, and Karen was worried about him finishing the course because it was long and you always have a couple of those big oxers at the end. Walking Karen around the start box, going round and round as I do at every single event with all her horses, and there were tons of people waiting around the start area watching, the starter called 30 seconds, and I’ll remember those next few minutes for the rest of my life, Karen locked eyes with me, and she said, ‘We’re going to be OK, right?’, and although I thought why on earth is she asking me, I said very firmly, ‘You are going to be GREAT!’, and she said,’OK’. The starter counted 3,2,1…and I was like, ‘oh my God’! David and I watched her jump the first jump, and then we ran into the tents to watch her jump the rest of the course. Teddy was amazing, he was freaking amazing! It was unbelievable! I remember they came through the finish, and David was in tears, and Karen was in tears, and Cathy Weischoff, Joanie Morris and I were working on Teddy, and Phillip Dutton, who’d been second to go on Connaught came back, and as soon as he pulled up he ran over and hugged Karen. It was a cool time, a very cool time. I think also during that time, in 2007 and 2008, the sport of eventing was under so much scrutiny, there had been some bad falls and accidents, some horses had been killed, and Teddy almost became like a hero or a mascot for eventing, it was almost as if a pony could do it, it was going to be all right, a bit of a feel-good thing too. Teddy was the toughest, soundest little horse I’ve ever looked after. He was cuddly to the people he knew; with his people he was very sweet and cuddly, but a bit wary of strangers, and kept his distance. He was a really cool guy, he loved to get scratched in the middle of his forehead, he loved his owner P. Wynn Norman, he loved Karen and David and myself, with his people that he knew he was really wonderful, he was very sweet. I miss him. I miss him terribly.”
I ask Max if there are any other horses that will ever compare to Teddy, and how she managed to move on,
“Well, obviously there are other horses that are in your life, that are different but special. Mandiba is special in many ways because I’ve been to every single one of his competitions, from his very first Beginner Novice through to the World Championships. Little Upstage was very special to me, I went to six Rolex’s with him, not many horses have done six consecutive Rolex’s so that’s pretty cool, and now Veronica has turned into one of my favourites even though she makes me crazy at times! I adore her, and she’s just an amazing jumper.”
Veronica at Rocking Horse Winter II
Max heads back to Rolex this spring with Veronica and Mr Medicott, but before that she has a busy week of preparation; we spoke on saturday as she drove back to Ocala, the horses would gallop the next day, continue the training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, and then ship to Red Hills on Wednesday. A huge thanks to Max for sharing such special memories with us, and thank you reading. Go Eventing.
Max and Mr Medicott at Rocking Horse Winter II