Nick was 10 or 11 when I met him – a sweet-mannered cutie pie with a bunch of red hair…but it’s not that hair that made him stand out. It was the fact that he was surrounded by girls. Tons of them. Nick was pretty much the only boy at a competition barn full of girls – and it didn’t bother him one bit. After a year or so, he started to grow, and now he towers over all of those girls (and his voice is also definitely a lot lower than it used to be!) : ). I’ve had the pleasure of watching this young man mature over the last 7 years – and he is STILL one of the only boys I’ve ever seen in the lower levels of eventing, but that doesn’t bother him one bit (horse pun intended..haha!). To call Nick an outstanding rider doesn’t really even do him justice. I remember watching him during a stadium jumping lesson when he was about 13. I hadn’t seen him jump in a couple of months, and I was literally astounded at the grace, agility, and command he had. I commented to my daughter, who was watching with me, “This is why men are so great at this sport – their upper body strength just can’t be matched!” But I was wrong. It wasn’t just that Nick was strong, it was that he was calm, and driven, and focused, and all the things that you would never expect a young teenage boy to be. Now? Nick has pretty much won every single award that he could possibly win in Area X of United States Eventing. I think he had to rent a U-Haul to carry all of his ribbons and prizes home from the awards dinner a couple of years ago. Want to see him in action with his gorgeous mare? Click here.
Of course, he’s jumping higher and faster now…because that’s just how hard he works! The day of our session, I checked in with his mom to be sure that he wasn’t too tired after a long weekend of schooling his horse in California. I knew he had gotten home late the night before. I was worried that texting at 9am would wake him up – but his mom told me that he was already out exercising someone else’s horses and wouldn’t even be home until 3pm! I remember those days of not needing sleep… ; ) Nick still stands out, but not just because of his awesome hair or his contagious grin (although plenty of girls probably disagree!). He is pushing himself beyond “normal” every day. I’m sure he would rather be sleeping in or catching a movie or doing what seniors like to do during their last year of high school. Instead, he’s busy training with Boots (that’s his mare!) and keeping up an amazing GPA at AAEC Paradise Valley, and taking college classes. Oh, did I forget to mention that Mr. Ambitious (a play on his horse’s show name) is thinking he would like to study cardiology? And go ahead and add on some pediatric cardiology stuff in there. He’s planning on attending Grand Canyon University this fall. I teased him that he was going to be in college for the next 35 years. I wonder if Grand Canyon knows the prize that they are receiving, wrapped up in the package that is Nick Madsen…
So, he’s smart, and ridiculously talented, and athletic, and driven, and adorable? Yes. *And* he loves animals. *And* he is very sweet to his mama. *And* he picks out awesome jeans. But wait… he’s also probably the most well-mannered guy on the planet. He proved it again when I managed to fall down this sandy 2-foot high hill thing (it was more like slide-falling very ungracefully and tripping over my own feet and almost landing on him, but..whatever). I kind of did that twice. The 2nd time was epic and thankfully I had given Nick my camera to hold – I don’t even remember why. Otherwise, these images would be from my iPhone because my camera would be covered in wet sand. : ) I know that Nick was worried that maybe I had died or broken my spleen, and made a fuss about not being able to get up from where he was in time to help me (I KNOW, I told you he is the SWEETEST!) but as soon as I started laughing at my slick moves, he busted up laughing, too. Because it’s not every day that the coolest person you know (me!) falls twice in five minutes on the same sandy step thing.
I thought about crying when I knew it was Nick’s senior session day, but his mom helped me through my internal drama because she promised me that he is living at home while he does his college thang, which means I will still get to see him ride and hang out once in a while when he misses seeing me fall on myself. I am so excited for Nick and his future…pay attention to this guy. Nothing can stop him. (I’m so proud of you, Nick!!) xoxo