Before hearing about what he gets up to each month, we get to know European Saddles sponsored rider Casey Mckenna and his current string of horses.
Bitten by the bug
I was first sat on a horse aged three, when my mother decided it would be nice for me and my sister to go for a pony ride – I don’t think for a minute she thought I would take to it like I have, never mind make a career out of it! I imagine if she realised how expensive this sport is, she would have taken me for a tennis lesson instead!
The riding bug took hold pretty quickly as a child and I jumped at any opportunity to be around horses of any kind. In my early teens, I started working in a stud/dealing yard where I learnt lots of valuable skills including how to stay on a naughty horse – a skill that has served me well over the years!
From there I went on to work in an international event yard for the summer, which was a real wake up call in regard to how much work and dedication is involved in this sport. Throughout my career I have worked on international showjumping and dressage yards as well as riding out points to pointers and hunters. I personally feel you shouldn’t limit yourself to one discipline when you’re young – experience across the industry will give you the edge over riders that only know one way of training a horse.
Set up for success
I am now based on a fantastic yard that I was lucky enough to have built to my specification. I have 14 internal stables, arena, horse walker, lunge pen, lovely post and rail paddocks and super quiet hacking.
Importantly, I also have a great team around me. Rebecca Atkin, who as well as being a very close friend comes to most of the competitions with me, and now has great skill off knowing what I need before I’ve even said it!
Issy Whiting is my head girl and second rider. She has been an excellent addition to the yard as she’s very switched on around the horses and what they need as well as being a beautiful rider. Her background is dressage and she has her horse with me, which she currently competes up to Inter I level.
Sarah Thompson works for me part time and is also a great asset – she very experienced with the horses and also is a great rider.
Meeting the horses
There is a real mix of horses in the yard; we have several that are with me to be completed on behalf of their owners as well as some lovely young horses that are with me to be backed and trained either for their owners to take over when they are ready or to be sold.
My current rides are:
- KEC Salza, 14yo gelding by Aldatus Z owned by Professor Heather Laurie. Formally ridden by Jeannette Brakewell, he is a relatively new horse to me and we are really starting to build a partnership now – we’re aiming to gain our CIC 3* qualification this year.
- Durango, 6yo gelding by Deville also owned by Professor Heather Laurie. I backed him at the end of his forth year and we have taken our time with him as he’s a big horse and needs time to grow. He has competed at BE90 with several double clears and we are very excited about his future.
- Warmington Benfree, 6yo gelding by Sea Freedom owned by Mrs Caroline Freeman. He came to me last year to produce for Caroline’s daughter Emma who has been away at university. He has also had several double clears at BE90 and will soon be going home to continue his career with Emma.
- Mccarthy Mor, 7yo gelding by Bushranger owned by Mrs Stephanie Appleton. He came to me before Christmas having been raced and we are currently retraining him to go eventing. He is a stunning type with lots of ability, so we are very excited about him.
- Madik, 4yo gelding by Royaldik owned by Mr Kevin Sheppard. We backed him before Christmas and will be aiming to get him out to some training shows at the end of the summer. He is also a very big horse, so we’ve given him plenty of time and he is currently having a little holiday before we continue his training.
- Komelian, 5yo gelding by Legrande owned by Ms Lisa Waller. I’ve been riding him for a couple of months now and he’s already had a winning outing in dressage and we are working on his jumping which he’s showing real talent for. We will hopefully start eventing him in the second half of the season.
Now that you know a little about me and my horses, I can’t wait to share Team Mckenna’s news throughout the coming months.