USEF Eventing 25 rider Madeline Backus, 22, is gearing up for an exciting season in 2018, as she is moving to England to work for William Fox-Pitt and immerse herself in an elite training program.
Her year-long trip abroad is made possible thanks to the two grants she received at the end of 2017. The $10,000 Rebecca Broussard National Developing Rider Grant and the inaugural $45,000 Wilton Fair Grant, which is given to a rider 29 and under who has not yet ridden for a senior U.S. team, combined to give her $55,000 in funding.
“It’s a huge amount for money between the two grants, and it’s going to help me out so much,” Madeline said. “None of this would be possible without the grants, so I’m extremely grateful.”
She decided to base with William Fox-Pitt in England after receiving heaps of helpful advice from riders who have gone before her in taking the plunge to train overseas.
“I had a lot of guidance from mentors, and they’ve pointed me in this direction. I think that being able to go overseas and into the UK will be really helpful and beneficial to my training and competing,” Madeline said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to about William’s program have all said wonderful things. Going over there and seeing that will be really incredible.”
Madeline does not yet have a date set to move to the UK but will be leaving as soon as possible once travel arrangements are complete for herself and the two horses accompanying her on the trip.
P.S. Arianna, her 17-year-old four-star partner, is of course going along for the journey. An Anglo-Trakehner mare (Ibsen X Amazing Raven) bred by her farrier Dennis Ackermann and started by her mother Laura, Madeline got “Ari” as a present for her 10th birthday. They have come up the levels together and completed their first CCI4* at Kentucky last year.
Now Madeline and “Ari” will face the biggest challenge of their partnership yet as they aim to compete at Badminton Horse Trials this spring.
“I can’t believe that Badminton is actually on my horizon,” Madeline said. “I have a wonderful horse and a lot of guidance and help. We will give it our best shot.”
Madeline and Ari participated in the USEF Eventing 25 training sessions in Ocala, Florida last week with USEF Emerging Athlete Coach Leslie Law. This is Madeline’s third year in the program, and she said she has gained an immense amount of knowledge from Leslie.
“Leslie is a really great instructor, not only with the horses but when we’re having our unmounted discussions,” she said. “There’s so much to take away from all of the training sessions. It’s really great to be around the other Emerging Athletes and spend the week learning from each other and from Leslie.”
Madeline will also be bringing her one-star horse P.S. On Top of the World. An 11-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding (Meisterwind X April Mist) bred by Elizabeth Stokes, “Vinnie” finished fourth in the USEF National CCI1* Championships at Hagyard Midsouth in Lexington, Kentucky last year.
Sadly she can’t bring all her horses to England, and she has one for sale in P.S. Etoile de Nord, a 10-year-old Anglo-Trakehner mare bred by Pendragon Stud Equestrian Center. Madeline is competing “Edie” in the Novice Horse division at Grand Oaks Horse Trials in Wiersdale, Florida this weekend. You can view her sales listing here.
We wish Madeline the best of luck as she heads to England to take on Badminton. Go Eventing.