This week’s Fleeceworks Team Talk comes from Caitlin Silliman, an event rider whose relationship with her horse is truly inspiring.
Here’s a picture of Caitlin and her horse, Catch A Star, in action at the 2013 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, their first four-star competition:
Catch A Star (barn name Hoku) might be making that massive square table look easy, but his journey to get there was anything but. In May of 2011, Hoku was among the horses rescued from a fire at Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm. Hoku sustained third-degree burns and was one of the three horses hospitalized at New Bolton Center. Caitlin’s dedication, patience, ingenuity and never-give-up attitude along with the care at New Bolton and Fair Hill Therapeutic Center was the recipe that pulled Hoku through.
There was one more contributing factor to Hoku’s return not just to health, but to a competitive career as well: Fleeceworks.
Hoku’s back has significant scarring and areas where hair has not grown back. To protect the weaker tissues and prevent skin breakdown, Caitlin used Fleeceworks sheepskin directly over the affected areas whenever she rode.
Caitlin discussed the role Fleeceworks played in this recent interview with Sidelines magazine:
“I wanted a fleece half pad to put under the saddle pad, but most half pads do not have fleece all the way down the spine,” Caitlin explained. “I had an old Fleeceworks pad, probably one of the first sheepskin pads they made and one of the first pads I bought when I was 10 or 11. It had sheepskin all the way down the spine. That Fleeceworks pad was the only reason why I was able to ride her and bring her back into work.”
Fleeceworks sheepskin decreases friction, which can cause skin breakdown, rubs, heat callouses ( those little bumps seen along the top line) and the white areas of hair. Fleeceworks sheepskin also has thermal balancing properties that pull warm sweat and heat away from the skin.
Fleeceworks now sponsors Caitlin and makes sure Hoku has every pad he needs. Caitlin uses the Perfect Balance Square Pads in each eventing phase as they are available in dressage, cross-country and show jumping styles. All feature sheepskin underneath with the ability to use any of Fleeceworks’ foam or wool felt inserts for maximum fit and comfort.
Hoku isn’t the only one who had to overcome massive obstacles on the road to Rolex. In September of last year, Caitlin suffered a fractured skull as a result of a freak riding accident on the farm. It took months of rehabilitation therapy to regain her motor skills–at first, she was unable even to walk.
But ultimately her determination and will to succeed pulled her through. It’s a character trait she clearly shares with her horse!
“What she has accomplished is very special,” says Judith McSwain, president of Fleeceworks. “Fleeceworks is lucky to have Caitlin join our team. We look forward to supporting her, following her career and sharing her stories.”
Go Caitlin, Go Fleeceworks, and Go Riding!