In The Arena with Patty Stovel
Patty Stovel is known to most horse enthusiasts as both a champion rider as well as an expert hunter/jumper trainer. Patty has had a lifelong passion for horses, literally riding before she could even walk. Patty began training ponies at a young age as part of her mother’s business and to this day preparing young equine athletes for careers in the ring remains a favorite aspect of what she does.
Early in her career, with highly regarded trainer Otis “Brownie” Brown, Patty brought along young horses, including those purchased out of the European sales. Patty says that finding talent when a young horse and maximizing that natural ability is something she truly enjoys doing and points to Mont Cenis, with whom she earned the title of highest placed American Rider at the 1994 World Equestrian Games, as an example.
When we asked Patty why her website leads with the line “Individuality is our Specialty…” Patty explained that she and Sarah Lane, her partner at Patty Stovel Training, focus on working with only a select number of horses in order to specialize the training and give the necessary one-on-one attention. Patty summarizes this philosophy by saying, “I want to spend time with each horse and I want to get to know their personality so I can bring out the best in each individual horse. Since there are only so many hours in a day to work with the horses, I try to be selective so that I can live up to those values and create results for my equine athletes and clients.”
This selective approach to training has also allowed Patty to take on longer-term projects with very young horses that need more work to become their best. She gives Carigor Z, known affectionately on the farm as Carlin (meaning “little champion” in Gaelic), as an example. Patty bought Carlin as a 2½-year-old and although she says he was not a natural, Carlin’s willingness to respond and give his best has made it more than worthwhile. According to Patty, “He’s always trying for you…you can ask most people who have watched him grow up... and for him, most people are amazed that he’s gotten this far and can do what he can do.”
Patty is also working with another talented young horse named Cavendish, about whom she says with a chuckle but also a lot of pride: “If there’s ever been an ADHD horse, it’s him!” All joking aside, Patty says that Cavendish has a great deal of natural talent that could make him extremely successful in any number of different avenues that remain open in his training and future athletic career.
For Patty, one of the most defining moments in her career was completing the 1994 World Equestrian Trials. The road was not easy, as she had to compete with a broken wrist and actually broke her collarbone during the trials. She still competed and finished—and credits that success to team effort. She says, “Whether it’s the vitamins such as the Vita Flex horse supplements or all the other things that go into it, there is always a team behind you.”
Patty and her business partner Sarah believe strongly in the importance of nutritional supplements for their equestrian athletes. Patty has been using Vita Flex products since 2003 and that they have made a remarkable difference. When choosing products, Patty says that the decisions “come along the lines of each individual horse and getting to know each horse to some degree.” She notes that her horses receive Vita Flex products on a daily basis, and she can tell that the programs she has tailored to each athlete “help a great deal.”
Patty also notes that the nutrition programs for the horses she is working with are tailored around the activities they are performing, saying, “I think when you try to bring them to the peak of their performance, you have to add some other things” not only before the event but also after to aid with their recovery.
Patty believes that horses should be matched with riders based on riding style and personality wherever possible. If she had only one piece of advice to share with novice riders, she says, “Give yourself and your horses time. Slow down. When you enter the ring, take time to collect your thoughts and energy when first stepping in instead of kicking off at the first opportunity. This is your time. You don’t need to rush it.” Although it can be hard, she says, “People get so nervous about walking in the ring but you have to allow you and your horse to take a breath before you start.”
Outside of the hunter/jumper world, Patty says that, if she had the time, she would love to learn more about other equestrian sports, particularly dressage and with someone like international dressage champion Robert Dover. Although she does not have much downtime outside of the ring, Patty does enjoy trail riding for relaxation whenever she can find the opportunity. She shares that perhaps her biggest excitement at the moment is the possible purchase of a farm and the potential she sees with a couple of the horses she is currently training.
To find out more about Patty’s event schedule or training programs, please visit http://www.pattystoveltraining.com/. If you’d like to win a Patty Stovel autographed horseshoe from Carigor Z, enter our Facebook Giveaway. To inquire about our full line of high performance equine supplements, please visit vitaflex.com.