Ten Things Abigail McArdle Has Learned from Katie Monahan Prudent (NF)
For a young rider looking to move up the show jumping ranks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better mentor than the legendary Katie Monahan Prudent, and the proof is in the pudding for Abigail McArdle. In her six years under Katie’s tutelage, Abigail not only carved out a successful junior career—including capturing the 2012 North American Junior/Young Riders Championships Show Jumping Individual Gold Medal—but has gone on to establish herself as one of America’s most promising young professionals.
In 2015, Abigail began working for Adam Prudent’s Plain Bay Sales, where Katie continues to assist her as she expands her education as the farm’s sales rider. Here are just a handful of the lessons Abigail has learned from Katie along the way.
Katie is a great horseman, which is just as important as being a great rider. She sees the bigger picture—horsemanship is not just about getting on the horse and riding, but rather, being involved in every aspect of the barn.
2. Becoming one with the horse.
Katie stresses the importance of building a relationship with your horse. This relationship forms in your flatwork, jumping, showing, and even trail rides. Every moment you are on the horse you are teaching them something.
3. Thriving under pressure.
Katie is all about executing under pressure and expects nothing less. There is always a plan and you are expected to follow that plan no matter if you are walking into the low schooling jumpers or the Grand Prix.
Katie always talks about the two types of fear—fear of making a mistake and physical fear, such as falling off. If either fear plays a role in your riding, it will be a hindrance to your performance. You must find a way to battle and control your fears.
5. Winning attitude.
Katie, notoriously known as a winning competitor, herself, translates that same attitude to her students. We walk into every class with the idea of winning and challenging ourselves every time we go into the ring.
6. Walking the course.
Katie is often asked by many professionals about her opinion after walking a course. There is an art to course walking and deciding exactly how it will ride for every horse. We plan out every stride, often walking long bending lines and always walking the big leave out options for the jump off.
7. Mental strength.
Being a small girl, Katie has taught me to be mentally strong. Often mental strength goes further than being physically strong. It’s remarkable what you can do when you put your mind to it.
8. Striving for perfection.
We are always critiquing our rounds, even when we win! Katie stresses the importance of finding a jump that feels perfect and trying to develop that feeling at every fence. Perfection to a jump is the difference in a matter of inches.
9. Learning to ride all types of horses.
Being Adam Prudent’s sales rider with the oversight of Katie’s training has allowed me to reach a new level in my skills. Katie has always stressed that you cannot simply be able to ride one horse, you need to be able to ride all kinds of horses, even if they may not be the ideal horse for you. Plain Bay Sales always has me well mounted on the best horses, and this has given me the opportunity to ride all different types.
10. La joie de vivre.
I’ve rarely seen someone as happy, passionate, and enthusiastic as Katie. She often says she doesn’t need to take a vacation because her life is a vacation. She loves what she does so much it’s contagious. Katie has made me acquire a taste for champagne, a love for fine dining, but mostly, the ability to wake up every morning loving what I do.