By Dani Moritz-Long
When most of her peers’ minds were consumed with the usual middle school problems like pre-teen crushes and ever-evolving drama, Maddy Goetzmann was focused on something bigger. An avid equestrian since she was a toddler, the young teen invested every ounce of free time she had in the saddle and, when she wasn’t riding, she was dreaming of her equestrian future.
“Balancing riding and school has always been a priority of mine, but I would be lying if I said that I never wished I was at the barn instead of in a classroom,” Maddy admitted. “It soon became apparent to me that riding is always going to be a big part of my life.”
So, through dedication, perseverance and natural talent, she set out to make her dreams for riding a reality. By age 13, the young rider was successfully competing in equitation, hunters and jumpers — placing in Big Eq classes and winning Medal and Maclays.
That’s about the time her parents realized the full potential of their daughter’s gift. “They knew how much I loved the sport, but I don’t think they knew how invested I was,” Maddy said. “Once they realized my full commitment to this sport, they were completely supportive and are to this day.”
Training with the Maddens
That support came in the form of world-class training from John and Beezie Madden — with a few conditions. Even though they encouraged Maddy’s investment in her riding career, family came first, school came second and riding came after. Needless to say, Maddy happily obliged.
Today, at 17 years old, Maddy continues to train with John and Beezie — refining her skills and building her future. At first, Maddy said, she was nervous (terrified, actually) about the prospect of training with two of the world’s premier trainers. But, “Shortly after I started training with them,” she said, “my fears vanished; I quickly realized that they are the most kind and thoughtful people.” In fact, now Maddy says, “I see them as mentors both on and off the horse.”
With the support of the Maddens, Maddy’s career quickly evolved, leaving her managing an increasingly hectic schedule of showing stateside and abroad.
But it isn’t all fun and games. Actively competing under the mentorship of the Maddens means finding innovative ways to balance schoolwork and riding, a difficult feat for most youth balancing their lives as students and riders.
For example, Maddy says, at many shows you can find her hiding away in the bleachers, calculator and textbook in hand as she works through her math problems, or cross-legged on a tack trunk working through her history homework. Not the ideal situation, she says, but well worth the struggle.
“It’s hectic,” she explained of the balancing act. “But, as the years have gone on, I’ve learned to balance the two.”
Plus, she says, it helps to work with Upper Echelon Academy, an organization that helps riders like Maddy meet their academic needs while they’re on the go.
“Working with Upper Echelon Academy has helped me with all of my schoolwork,” she said. “I don’t know how I would be able to get everything done without their help.”
And when the going gets tough and the stress becomes too much, Maddy remembers the best advice she’s been given: have fun.
“John Madden stresses to have fun,” she said. “I think it’s easy to get caught up in all of the things going around you. It’s easy to get stressed and nervous and make things more complicated than they are. It’s important to remember to have fun because, at the end of the day, you’re doing this sport because you love it.”
In the future, Maddy says she’d love to ride horses for the rest of her life, but, for now, she’ll continue to ride, study and follow John and Beezie’s advice.