Consistency is hard to come by in the world of international show jumping. Course design, footing and stimuli outside the arena are among many variables over which horse and rider have zero control. To attain and maintain a remarkable level of consistency since her first Olympic outing in 2004, show jumper Beezie Madden and Team John Madden Sales have learned to nail it down every chance they get. That’s why Haygain steamed hay is a key part of their horses’ feeding regime, on the road and at home.
“Some hay is better quality than others,” notes Clark Shipley, a 25-year veteran of Team JMS’s stable management staff. “Once we’ve steamed it, it’s clean and we don’t have to worry about the dust and whatever else might be in it.”
“Hay is crucial for the health, well-being and performance of horses,” Beezie notes. “Haygain ensures for us that our horses get what they need and nothing that they don’t from their hay.”
Beezie’s partner in this year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ victory, Breitling LS, is prone to allergies that make him extra sensitive to the inhalable irritants found in even top quality hay. Steaming keeps his feed consistently clean and free of problematic particles, whether he’s winning the World Cup Finals or helping Beezie and Team USA jump to bronze at the recent Rotterdam CDIO Nations Cup. Like the horses in Haygain’s science-based studies, the Dutch Warmblood stallion has a hearty appetite for steamed forage. Clark reports that the 12-year-old’s colorful barn antics often include trying to drag the bag of hay toward his stable when it’s fresh and fragrant from the 60-minute steaming cycle.
Clark recalls Team JMS first discovering steaming while competing in Europe five or six years ago, and he notes that it’s a common sight on the show jumping scene there. At the CDIO Rotterdam, “There was at least one unit cooking hay outside of every tent in the stabling area.” The benefits of steamed hay made immediate sense, he says. It’s been easy to incorporate into their horses’ daily care, on the road, abroad and at their U.S. stables in Florida and Cazenovia, New York.
“It’s just part of your routine,” Clark explains. “Any time you change your routine it can seem like a pain at first, but once it becomes part it you don’t really think about it. You put a little water on the hay, fill up the tank and plug it in. It takes five minutes.”Team JMS travels with two portable steamers, and keeps larger units at their stables in Europe, Florida and New York.
A four-time Olympian, Beezie is currently competing in Europe as a member of the U.S. Show Jumping Short List for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tyron, North Carolina, Sept. 11-23. The tour continues through mid-August, after which four horse and rider pairs, plus a traveling reserve, will be named for the WEG effort.
With four WEG medals, from 2006 and 2014, and continuing what seems like an unending hot streak, Beezie is well prepared to help the U.S. to a strong finish in Tyron if things pan out as hoped. A spot for the U.S. team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hangs in the balance with a sixth-place or better finish, but that kind of pressure would be nothing new for Beezie, the unrivaled queen of show jumping consistency.