Delving into the minds of four-star riders – Joe Meyer (NZL)
There is a significant difference between an equestrian and an Eventer.
Equestrians push their minds and bodies of themselves and their horses to great lengths for sport, for fun, or perhaps to maintain their health. Eventers push their minds and abilities to the farthest possible limit with their equine partners while simultaneously taking calculated risks where a split second decision can be costly.
At the highest level of Eventing, four-star Eventers are in a class of their own. These extreme athletes are who we look to when trying to understand and measure what is possible for an equine partnership at the top. They serve as self-appointed test subjects, leaving most of the average population watching (and studying) in awe from afar.
Four-star riders continue to take on death-defying feats, again and again, chasing the adrenaline rush like drug addicts. They are truly a different breed.
It is fascinating to think what goes through the mind of a four-star Eventer. What makes them tick and how do they go about their lives out of the saddle? So we are introducing a new series allowing us to delve into the minds of four-star riders with some intriguing and fun questions to help figure out the mindset of these rare athletes.
Getting to know Joe Meyer
Joe Meyer began his competitive career at the age of six. His parents own and manage the successful Mamaku Stud in New Zealand. He has ridden a variety of horses to the top levels but his most famous partner, Snip, was the horse that he rode at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Together they had top placings at the highest levels of the sport including a 10th place at Badminton in 2006 and 7th place in 2007. Joe has produced numerous horses to the Advanced level and continues to train horses while currently based in Ocala, FL. This year, he plans to compete at Rolex riding Clip Clop.
Joe is very happy to accept horses into his program for training, competing and resale. Year round, Joe is a sought after clinician, and he does clinics all over North America and the Bahamas. He also coaches a growing group of students on a regular basis.
Here is a rare opportunity for you to get to learn a little more about Joe aside from his impressive riding resume.
What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
Joe: That’s a long time ago. I think it was like; I better sell this horse today. I hope this deal goes well.
What’s your greatest failure and how did you overcome it?
Joe: I’ve had a lot of those. I fell off at the WEG in Aachen, and it was something that I didn’t think I’d done wrong. But when I went back and looked at it, I realized that yeah it was probably my fault because I tried a bit hard. I was putting it out of my mind. I was going to go back and train better. The next year, the horse went out and was 7th at Badminton, and everything got better. It was hard because when you ride for your country on a team, you feel a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility. It ‘s hard to put that out of your head, but you have to. I dwelled on it for far too long and talked to friends and stuff. It was a like a bit of a self-realization and a little bit of help from a sports psychologist to just move on. You have to trust your training and not make mistakes like that again. Get more advice, talk to more people, walk more courses with pros, that sort of thing.
It was a dirty ass, angled, horrible tricky bitch of a thing. I had a good cross-country horse, so it was like have a go. In hindsight, it might’ve been easier to take the option, but we were all trying to win. So it just didn’t work out. I had to put it behind me and trust my trainer. And as the horse got better and better, I kind of went that ‘okay mistakes happen and although mistakes happen you can’t wallow in them’.
What’s your greatest achievement and how has it shaped you?
Joe: I suppose being an Olympian is a good achievement. It’s given me much more perspective on the sport at the very high levels. Once you go to an Olympics, you realize just how difficult it is to a) be good enough to go b) be selected c) get the performance on the day. It is not all plain sailing. All the stars have got to align. So once you get better and get a little bored, it just helps you plan other events, other shows and other bits. It also helps to put pressure in perspective. It made me much more aware of what I need to do and also it is one of those things that you shouldn’t go and change things you just got to do what you normally do. It was a big growing up and learning experience.
If there was a movie produced about your life who would play you and why?
Joe: Bruce Willis because he is really bald and I find it hard to slow down. I am pretty laid back, but once I get on a role, I am pretty full on. I am sort of on or off. The problem is when I am going fast I end up breaking things. When I am like sort of on the chill out mode, I am fine. So some of the action shit reminds me of some of the stuff I do. Like I’m trying to take a bloody hitch off an RV, and I am out there sawing and grinding and beating, and I cut this mess of a bloody thing on my hand and need stitches. And I’m like, Joe you need to slow down and not do this stupid, stupid shit.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?
Joe: I haven’t been pushed over in a Port-A-Loo for years.
I am trotting down to warm-up in the Training on my fancy little warmblood, who has been known in the past to have me off. I am looking down at my pinny and I realize that I’ve got the wrong number. So I start pulling it out because underneath is the right number. I was like ah okay that is cool, so I start scrunching up the paper number to put it in my pocket. Louis puts his head down and bucks, spins, gets me unseated and then feels that I am unseated and spins again and dumps me from the noise of the paper. Then he gallops back to the trailer, Diana Burnett was pissing herself laughing and saying she thought she just saw me going the other way and now your horse is going that way. But I got back on and had a clear round. A lot of people got a good laugh out of that.
Name one thing you hate to do the most and why?
Joe: I know this sounds really dumb, but I hate moving jumps. I hate moving jumps and I hate building courses. I need to rack my brain, and I know I need to rack my brains, so it is just kind of like oh what am I going to do. And once I’ve done it, and I’ve built a new course I am fine. But it is just one of those things like, argh do I really have to do this?
If you could get away with a crime, would you? If your answer is yes, what would it be?
Joe: Well, I do get away with a crime, and it is speeding in the car. I know I shouldn’t, and my wife tells me all the time that I shouldn’t. But it is part of the event rider psyche. Pedal to the medal, you know what I mean. I just cannot be sitting still in traffic; I can’t bear it.
Who is your personal hero?
Joe: I haven’t really got one, rather I’ve got like several. Well, it is a mixture between Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd and my wife. Mark is a hero because he is the greatest and he rode Charisma, a horse that we bred. Andrew is the hardest working and toughest rider ever and he has always been super friendly and there for me whenever I needed. Like Mark, he came from nothing and made himself fantastic. My darling wife, without her I would not be doing what I am doing today, and she is fantastic because she keeps me on the straight and narrow.
What’s on the horizon with Joe?
Opportunity to join Joe Meyer’s team with an AFFORDABLE and exciting syndicate
If you ever dreamed of owning a top horse for a four-star rider, now is your chance. Joe and Ruthie are now offering shares in Johnny Royale, an 8-year-old New Zealand OTTB, gelding.
Shares are available for $13,000 and only a $2,000/yr maintenance fee. The cool thing about this opportunity is that you could organize a group of friends and buy a share together so your costs could be exceptionally low and affordable. A couple of shares are already owned by groups, so put it out there to your barn group and buy a share together.
“This horse is only a year away from being very competitive. He has incredible scope and moves like a warmblood. He easily went around the CIC3* at Poplar last month and is an exciting four-star prospect for New Zealand”, says Joe.
“We are looking for people to join us that want to have fun and own part of an exceptional horse to cheer on at Rolex, Badminton and Burghley over the next few years.”
Joe and Ruthie would like to thank the following supporters who contribute daily to the success of their team and program.
- OPTIMUM TIME
- McCauley’s Feed
- Mac Wet Gloves
- Winning Edge Saddlery
- Gatehouse Helmets
- ECP saddle pads
- Tri-Zone Equilibrium Boots
- Gay, John Meyer and Mamaku Stud
- Light Speed Equestrian
- Rhonda Gailey and Peachstone Eventing
- Theresa and Madison Foote
- Denise Rath and Grey Fox Farm
- Brett and Jesse Reagin