Fredericks to Lead Canadian Eventers

The Canadian Eventing High Performance Committee and the Canadian Eventing Committee announced the appointment of Clayton Fredericks to the

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By: Susan Stafford-Pooley |

Fredericks, an Australian with a home base at Rosegarth Farm in Wiltshire, UK, replaced David O’Connor, who has accepted the role of technical advisor for the US Eventing Team after six successful years as ITA of the Canadian Eventing Team.

The 45-year-old Fredericks boasts an impressive resume: he was was an individual silver and team bronze medalist at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, and a team silver medalist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as a member of the Australian eventing team in London. He won the inaugural eventing World Cup title in 2005 and again in 2008, also claiming victory at Rolex Kentucky in 2007 with Ben Along Time.

To facilitate riders and fulfill his coaching duties on this side of the Atlantic, Fredericks has opened a new training centre in Ocala, FL. Oak Lane Farm is owned by Charles and Anne Koch, a couple Fredericks met on a trip while scouting for potential farms. In addition to 36 stalls and 150 acres of paddocks, the spacious facility has access to 700 acres for hacking, conditioning and cross-country schooling. “We were looking at investing in Florida, both with the horses and the saddlery business (Southern Star Saddlery, the tack and equipment business he runs with his brother).When we were in Ocala looking for a place, we went up there and I fell in love with it,” says Fredericks of Oak Lane.

So what is the plan of attack for Fredericks, who initially heard about the ITA position from a couple of Canadian eventers? “First things first,” he says. “Because I’ve been a competitor myself, I’ve not been looking at what everyone else is up to. I need a little bit of time to get to know all the riders. I think I could help with the transition for a lot of the riders to get in the zone you need to be into to compete at the top level, and what needs to happen in the background.”

“It seems to me that we’re very thin on horses, so we have to change that. We can’t ride broomsticks to win medals. That’s one of the first focuses.”

This winter, he will be inviting Canadian eventers to the Ocala training centre. “I need some time to get to know everyone, get a good rapport with everyone and keep the communication very open. I think the focus has to be on the top riders, but at the same time I don’t want to exclude anyone.”

The move to Florida will necessitate a lot of intercontinental travel for Fredericks and his wife, Lucinda (Murray), a British eventer of some note herself, who will be staying back to run the farm and look after their nine-year-old daughter, Ellie. The youngest member of the household is now fearlessly showing her own pony, Minky. “She’s pretty fierce – I don’t know where she got her competitive streak!” Fredericks says, laughing. He admits it’s tough to watch her barrelling down to a fence. “I’m nervous. It’s worse, because you can’t control the situation.”

When precious time allows, Fredericks also enjoys scuba diving, skiing and boating – and performing as lead singer in his band, Snatch. “I find singing in the band a real release – it’s completely different to horses.”

How does Fredericks feel about giving up his own riding goals, such as the 2014 WEG? “I’ve got mixed feelings about that,” he admits. “I’ve been a very competitive rider and it’s not like I’ve sort of drifted off; I’m still at the top. It’s difficult in some ways to make a change from riding to coaching, and also make a jump from a different country. It was a good opportunity, and you’ve got to take opportunities when they arrive. I could have stood back and said “no” and continued with the riding, and then found I didn’t have the horsepower to go to the major championships. I weighed up the pros and the cons and it made sense to me at this point of time.”