by Jaya Mae Gregory
I first saw Monk during the Haggin Cup judging a few years ago. It was a year I had not finished the Tevis Cup myself and so I was rested well enough to enjoy the judging. His rider, Lindsay Graham Fisher, was a fit and young 30-something. She trotted him out with grace and ease, but he didn’t show as well as the other horses. “He doesn’t trot like a normal Arab, but that’s just him,” says Lindsay. Those who know him best call his trot the “Monk Shuffle.” According to Lindsay, there is no wasted movement in his gaits.
Lindsay first began riding Monk about 10 years ago. The now 17-year-old CMK Arab surprised his rider and owner when he casually trotted to a first place finish at the 2009 AERC National Championship. “We just cruised to first place completely by accident,” said Lindsay. “It was a very humbling experience. That was when I knew what kind of horse I had underneath me.”
Since 2009, Monk has completed several AERC and FEI rides. In 2012, Monk finished strong after 100 miles at the President’s Cup in Abu Dhabi. “He looked like a million bucks.” But then he went off to Texas and injured his suspensory. Monk suffered a 50% tear in the ligament, an injury which should have been career ending. However, Monk’s owner, Chris Martin, sent him to UC Davis for stem cell therapy. He was off the rest of 2012 and 2013, but came back strong in 2014.
Since recovering from his injury, Monk has finished the Tevis Cup with his rider Lindsay four consecutive times. Four consecutive times, all in the Top Ten. This year, Monk could not only earn the Robie Cup honor, awarded to those horses who have five Tevis Cup finishes, but if he also finishes in the Top Ten again, he could be the second horse to earn this honor five consecutive years all in the Top Ten, after the horse Wetezarif.
When asked about their secret to success, Lindsay replied, “He gets to just be a horse. He has intense training, but he also gets to just be a horse. He is always ready to go all season. He is always moving, he is always fit.” Owner Chris Martin has Monk living out on several acres and he carefully monitors his weight. He also incorporates a lot of hill work into Monk’s training and does a lot of conditioning miles without the weight of a rider. All of this has proven to work for Monk in the past, and hopefully, his ride through the Tevis Cup this coming August will be another success and earn him the honor of the Robie Cup award.
Regardless of whether or not Monk finishes the Tevis Cup this year, however, he will always hold a permanent place in Lindsay’s heart. “I just feel really lucky that he came into my life. I thought it was going to be a short one or two year thing and even though he’s not my horse, he feels like my horse. [One day] He will get to live out his life with me and get to be loved on by my kids. He’s a very special horse.”