Just like any sport, equestrianism is filled with legendary riders, let’s meet some famous horse riders in history, you can get to know them here. Not only are these riders famous, but the horses that helped them achieve such recognition are also equally, if not more famous.
William Steinkraus, better known as Bill, is one of the most famous horse riders in history. Bill was born in 1925 and grew up in Darien, Connecticut. He started his riding career at the age of 10. His first major equestrian win occurred in 1941 at the age of 16, when he won the Maclay National Championship, coveted equitation final for junior riders.
Bill then went to Yale Unversity and was sent to Burma during World War II, where he was part of the Army’s last mounted regiment.
He soon set the showjumping scene alight, winning some of the most important events a rider can. Steinkraus represented the United States in five Olympic games, winning four medals. One of these medals, the first-ever won by an American.
He won this gold medal at the 1968 games in Mexico, which contained some of the biggest fences ever seen in show jumping. In addition to his Olympic medals, Steinkraus won four Pan American Games medals, four gold, and one silver. In 1972, Bill retired from competition but never ended his involvement in the sport.
He died on 29 November 2017 at the age of 92.
Read more about the Uses of Horses Throughout History
Marion Coakes is a retired show jumping rider from the United Kingdom. She is most famous for her achievements on her horse Stroller. What makes this team extra special is that Stroller stood only 14.2 hands tall; a pony.
When Marion reached age 16, the age at which riders graduate to horses in the UK, she would not let her father sell Stroller. She competed with Stroller in some of the most prestigious showjumping events, against much larger horses, and jumping the biggest courses around.
Marion and Stroller took part in three British Nations Cup win a World Championships, and the President’s Cup. In 1964, this against the odds duo won the trial for the Hickstead Derby and finished second in the Hickstead Derby itself. They came back in 1967 to win the Hickstead Derby.
In 1970, they won the challenging Hamburg Derby, where Marion was the first woman to win it. Marion and Stroller tie in nicely following Bill Steinkraus, as they too tackled the formidable 1968 Mexico Olympic Games course. Here they took the silver medal, despite Stroller suffering from a damaged tooth.
Find out if Pregnant Women Can Ride Horses – Safe or Not?
Bertalan De Némethy
Born in Hungary in 1911, De Némethy honed his riding at the Hungarian Cavalry School. In 1952, De Némethy emigrated to the United States. It is here, he met and worked with Bill Steinkraus. De Némethy served at the US show jumping coach from 1955 until 1980.
In a book about De Némethy, Steinkraus provided the forward stating, “today, in comparison, he is nationally recognized as one of the most influential figures in equestrian sport in the post-war era, a man whose teachings, both directly and through his many pupils, have exerted a profound influence on the success of our international team and the general standard of equitation in the United States, and indeed, Europe as well”
The British rider, Charlotte Dujardin, while still young, earned herself legendary status at the 2012 London Olympics. As of 2021, she is just 35 years old and the most famous British dressage rider in history. She started her riding career competing in show jumping on ponies.
After her switch to dressage, she took a temporary job as a groom with Carl Hester and never left. It is here that she partnered with Valegro, aka Blueberry, now a celebrity in his own right. Charlotte went on to win the individual and team gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics, individual gold and team silver in Rio 2016, and champion of the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
In 2013, she was awarded the title of CBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Valegro retired in 2016 as he had nothing else to prove and enjoys a happy retirement at Carl Hester’s hacking in the English countryside. Charlotte continues to compete and has some exciting horses in her string.
Expect to see many more fantastic achievements from Charlotte in the years to come.
Here you’ve met just a few of the most famous horse riders in history. A true look at all the equestrians who contributed to the sport can fill a very large book! If you’d like to learn more about a legendary rider, let us know in the comments below.