Turning your passion into your career // with Maddy Crowe

Turning your passion into your career // with Maddy Crowe

If there’s one piece of advice New Zealand’s National Three Day Event Champ Madison Crowe has for others, it is to chase your dreams. “That’s been a big motivation in life for me,” said the 25-year-old. “If you put your mind to something and you put everything into it, there is always a chance.”

She ditched her job as a full time accountant to pursue that chance . . . and it’s paid off in spades. The full time rider from Matangi has now popped up as a longshot for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Madison grew up on a dairy farm in Canterbury. She rode from a young age and came up through the Pony Club system. “Eventing always stuck out to me, so as I graduated from ponies onto hacks I chose to head down that path and never looked back.”

She’s not wrong, the 2018-2019 season produced a dream run with her and Waitangi Pinterest second at Puhinui CCI4*-L, second at the Horse of the Year Show in the CCI4*-S, second at the National One Day Champs at Kihikihi in the CCI4*-S and capped it all off winning the CCI4*-L at the National Champs at Taupo where she was also on the New Zealand senior team. Those results saw her also take out the Eventing Super League Series.

But before throwing herself full time into her riding, she did a Bachelor of Commerce at Lincoln University. “I decided to stay in Christchurch for university as it meant I was still able to ride thanks to my parents being close.”

She made the Eventing New Zealand Junior Squad and by 2014 had her sights set on making the Oceania Young Rider team for Melbourne. “But being in the South Island I wasn’t even on the selection radar so I decided I had to move north.”

New Zealand Black Oceania representative Madison Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest compete in the cross country of the DVS Home Ventilation CCI4*-L Championship class at the New Zealand Three Day Event Championships at the National Equestrian Centre in Taupo on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Credit: Diana Dobson/The Black Balloon

The first call she made was to Clarke Johnstone to see if he would take her on as a working pupil in an effort to make the team. “I think everyone thought me making the team was a long shot but amazingly, with some hard work and lots of training, I made it.” It’s how she lives life – striving for the success and leaving no stone unturned in that quest.

After the Oceania Champs she graduated from uni and with degree in hand decided to build a career as an accountant while fitting her riding in around her job. She remained on the Young Rider Squad from 2014-2016, juggling work and riding for three-and-a-half years. “The horses were always still a main priority but it did make it all very difficult trying to keep a balance across my life.”

In September 2016, she found and bought Waitangi Pinterest. “We have had some pretty big successes including winning the CCI3*-L at the 2017 Taupo National Three Day Championships and the Pro-Am Series in the 2016-2017 season.”

They earned their way onto the Talent Development Squad and Madison quickly figured working full time while juggling full time riding was too much – especially with the goals she had in mind. “When I was trying to make the jump to competing in the new 4* level, it became even more difficult to balance the two, so in 2018 I made the decision to resign from my accounting job and start back working for Clarke.”

By her own admission, it was the best decision she ever made and her dream season ensued. She’s inspired by just a couple of top eventers – Badminton winner Piggy French who she describes as “so determined and classy” across all three phases. “She hit rock bottom and has managed to come back stronger than ever before.” And of course there is Clarke – her mentor and great mate. “He inspires me daily with how amazing he is on the horses and he pushes me to do better every single ride.” Her New Zealand title in May was as much his victory as it was hers.

Next she’s looking to take her 10-year-old thoroughbred-warmblood cross mare – who is by Cassiano, out of Amberlou (by Aberlou) and bred by Jocelyn Bayly – across the ditch to compete in the Adelaide Three Day. “I want to take on the Aussies in their own back yard!”

Maddy’s five top tips

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – coaching is essential for improvement.
  • Always have a plan with short and long term goals set.
  • Trust your gut instinct – it is always right.
  • Ride with no stirrups regularly including doing some rising trot without them. It helps your lower leg and balance.
  • Do lots of pole work – have three poles set with five strides between them. Train the canter, the rideability and your eye. Start by doing five in each, then six, then four, then back to five. There are loads of variations of this exercise so you can always keep it interesting and make it harder for yourself.