Marti with one eye – Chelan Kozak’s amazing mare

Despite have one eye, Marti has been navigating cross-country like a seasoned pro. Chelan Kozak and Lamartine Z,

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Watching Chelan Kozak’s mare Lamartine Z on cross-country, you cannot help but notice her exceptional jumping ability. But take a closer look and you can’t help but be impressed just a little bit more when you realize she only has one eye. Making the 24 hour journey from Surrey, British Columbia, the pair are tackling their first CCI1* at Galway Downs International this weekend. Chelan is excited about this mare’s potential and she has declared her for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Despite being born with only one eye, this horse may just have what it takes.

Life minus an eye
Marti was born and bred at Thornfield Farm in British Columbia. Her missing eye is due to a rare genetic condition, Anophthalmia. Despite the missing eye Marti is as healthy as a horse. “The real disadvantage to her missing eye is that she is not a breeding candidate because it is hereditary. Like a gelding if she can no longer compete there is no breeding potential,” says Chelan.

Love at first sight jump
“I have had a crush on this mare for four or five years now. I jumped her over her first jump and was unbelievably impressed by her,” confesses Chelan. Modern cross-country courses feature complex technical questions, making Chelan first doubt Marti’s capabilities of being an upper level horse. After talking to Frankie Theiriot, Chelan found out that Frankie’s three-star partner, Fric Frac Berence, was blind in one eye. After learning that one-eyed horses can make it to the top, Chelan wanted Marti. She admits, “Frankie is my inspiration for taking on Marti.”

Bittersweet partnership
Contacting the breeder, Thornfield Farm, Chelan was told that the breeder’s sister, Sandra Bogart, an amateur rider, was now riding Marti. Sandra knew that Marti would never reach her full potential with her but she was in love with mare and did not wish to sell her. Sadly a year ago in May, Sandra had a severe head injury and she is now riding a bit again but she made the decision to have Marti go to Chelan. “It has been kind of a long process for me getting the horse and then at the end me getting her is a bittersweet. The breeder and her sister remain very involved and are huge supporters. It is all a wonderful situation that has come out of something tragic,” said Chelan.

Quick learner
Not many horses end their first season eventing at a CCI1*, especially having only one eye. Marti’s work ethic, natural talent and past experience doing 1.15-meter jumpers have had her progressing quickly. “One eye or two she shows up everyday. She is a mare mind you and is a bit fussy and opinionated but everyday she shows up to work and gives you 110%,” says Chelan. Running four preliminary horse trials Chelan is confident that Marti is ready for her first CCI1* but is unsure if she is ready to win quite yet. “She is not going to win the dressage but I expect she will be competitive. She is a good mover and in years to come she will be in the top but this weekend I do not think it will happen,” explains Chelan.

Trusting Marti
It has been an interesting journey for Chelan to learn how to change her riding to compensate for Marti missing an eye. Chelan always allows Marti to tilt her head and move it however she needs to so she can understand the fence. “You can make yourself a bit crazy about whether things will affect her. She can jump a skinny to a skinny on a tight turn and I do not know how she does it but she jumps it fine. This mare does not know any different because she was born with one eye,” says Chelan. While Marti has been on the learning curve to become an eventer, Chelan has been learning how to trust Marti. Their story is rather extraordinary and we hope their future international results will match.

Chelan Kozak was a member of the:

  • 1994 Canadian World Equestrian Team, Hague
  • 1996 Canadian Olympic Team, Atlanta

[Chelan’s website]

 

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