Portrait: Two time olympic gold medalist Mclain Ward

3 min.

Mclain Ward is a name that has become synonymous with excellence in the world of show jumping. Born in 1975, Ward began competing at a young age and quickly established himself as a top-level rider. His exceptional horsemanship, competitiveness, and consistency in delivering top performances have earned him a place among the greats in the sport.

“The Kid”

Growing up on his family’s farm in Brewster, New York, Ward’s love for horses was evident from a young age. His father, Barney Ward, was a successful rider and trainer, and Ward quickly followed in his footsteps. As a young rider, he honed his skills and made a name for himself, winning numerous awards and accolades, including the United States Equestrian Federation’s Show Jumping Derby and the USET Medal Finals at the age of 14. This made him the youngest ever winner of both competitions, as well as the first rider to win both in the same year. These achievements earned him the nickname “The Kid”.

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Foto: Malgré Tout Media Archive, Global Champions Tour Prague 2022

The Olympic Champion

One of the highlights of Ward’s career was his Olympic triumphs. He made his Olympic debut in 2004, where he was part of the U.S. show jumping team that won gold in Athens with his mount, Sapphire, a Belgian Warmblood. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he and Sapphire repeated their success, winning team gold medals again. These victories were the result of years of hard work and preparation, as well as a close partnership with Sapphire. The pair also won team silver medals at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and individual silver medals at the 2009 World Cup Final. Sapphire retired in 2012 and passed away in 2014, and was later inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.

Continuing to Impress

After Sapphire’s retirement, Ward maintained his dominance in the show jumping arena, competing with other top horses, most notably with HH Azur. The pair represented the United States at the Olympics in both 2016 and 2021, securing team silver medals at both competitions. They also achieved a World Cup win in 2017 and finished in fourth place in 2018, along with collecting numerous Grand Prix victories along the way. In 2018, Ward achieved yet another milestone in his illustrious career by winning the World Championship in the team jumping category, while also placing fourth in the individual competition. This victory, made on Clinta, was particularly special for Ward, as it was held in the United States.

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A Champion, Trainer, and Philanthropist

Aside from his athletic accomplishments, Ward is widely recognized for his philanthropy and dedication to giving back to the equestrian community. In addition to being a successful rider, he has also trained several world-class riders, including his teammate and fellow World Champion, Adrienne Sternlicht. Ward’s commitment to the sport extends beyond his personal successes. He supports various charities and foundations aimed at improving the welfare of horses and making equestrian sports more accessible to people from diverse backgrounds. He has been a vocal advocate for making horse riding more accessible to underprivileged communities, in order to diversify the sport.

Mclain Ward’s success, both in competition and as a trainer and philanthropist, has cemented his place as a true champion of the equestrian world. His Olympic victories and World Championship win have inspired riders of all ages and levels, and his contributions to the sport will be remembered for years to come. His dedication to training and supporting the next generation of great riders, as well as his work to improve the lives of horses and make equestrian sports more accessible, are a testament to his character and love for the sport. With a career that spans over three decades, Ward’s impact on show jumping will be felt for many years to come, and he will always be remembered as one of the greatest show jumpers of all time.

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