Last Updated on February 17, 2023
Equestrian sport has many celebrated athletes, in part two of this series, we will introduce you to some more famous horse riders in history and their mounts. While hard work and dedication certainly played a big role in these riders’ success, riding is a partnership. We can’t forget to include some of the special horses that helped them achieve success.
Joe Fargis is a living legend, who is still active in the equestrian community today. Born in 1948, in New York, Joe went on to an illustrious equestrian career. Joe spent his childhood in Vienna, Virginia.
It is here that he had access to one of the best riding instructors of the time, Jane Dillon. Dillon ran the Junior Equitation School, giving Joe the strong foundations he needed to reach the top of the sport. At the age of 18, Joe started training at Foxwood Farm with Francis Rowe.
By the time Joe turned 30, he engaged the training wisdom of the fantastic Bertalan de Némethy, who we introduced you to in the first part of famous horse riders in history. At that point, Joe had already represented the United States on Nations Cup teams.
Riding for the Team: Inspirational Stories of the USA’s Medal
Touch Of Class – Famous Horse Riders In History
In 1975, Joe helped the US team win gold at the Pam Am Games, held in Mexico. Little did he know the time, but the horse that would bring him his biggest achievements just turned two. In 1975, nobody could have predicted that the tiny, little Thoroughbred mare preparing for the racetrack would become one of the most legendary showjumpers in history.
Of course, we are talking about Touch Of Class. Fate brought this unlikely pair together. Joe a tall, lean man of 6 foot 2 inches, and Touch Of Class, a particularly fine-boned Thoroughbred, barely stood 16 hands tall.
The pair was selected for the 1984 Olympics, held in Los Angeles. It was an uneasy start as Kitty, Touch Of Class’s pet name, was anxious about the surroundings at the Santa Anita racetrack. This was unusual for the normally relaxed mare.
With plenty of time walking around the environment, Kitty started to settle. When it came time for Joe and Kitty to jump, no horses had jumped a clear round. But Joe and Kitty, did, to the eruption of the home crowd.
Touch Of Class and Joe took home the individual gold medal in Los Angeles and helped the US take the team gold. In 1988, Joe Fargis again participated in the Olympics, this time in Seoul. This time Joe took home a team silver medal and finished seventh individually with his horse, Mill Pearl.
Today, Joe is one of the most sought-after clinicians in equestrian sport. Watch Joe and Kitty’s 1984 Gold Medal winning round here.
Eddie Macken – Famous Horse Riders In History – Part 2
Eddie Macken is to the Irish as Joe Fargis is the Americans. Born in 1949, in County Longford, Eddie has a list of achievements every rider is envious of. The peak of his career takes us back to the 1970s when Eddie took the sport by storm.
In 1970, Eddie meets his horse of a lifetime, Boomerang, aged 4. The pair took part in their first Hickstead Derby in 1976. The Hickstead Derby is one of the highlights of the showjumping calendar.
It is a tough, exciting course that incorporates several natural obstacles, including the famous bank. Eddie and Boomerang took the win in 1976. Winning this class once is an incredible achievement, but Eddie and Boomerang went on to win the derby four times in a row, 1976, 77, 78, and 79.
The pair also took part in three consecutive Aga Khan Nations Cup wins at the Dublin Horse Show during the same period of their Hickstead success. During the 1970s, Joe and Boomerang won or came second in an impressive 32 Grand Prix.
Sadly, in 1980 Boomerang broke the pedal bone in his foot, forcing his retirement. Today, Eddie lives in Canada and spends time actively coaching riders in Canada and the United States.
Here is a video of Eddie Macken and Boomerang winning the Spruce Meadows Grand Prix in Canada in 1970
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For the next rider, we will move over to another equestrian discipline, Three Day Eventing. Eventing is a multidiscipline event that combines dressage, cross country, and showjumping. Lucinda hails from Hampshire, England, born in 1953.
Lucinda started learning the equestrian trade at just 4 years old. In 1973, She took part in her first Olympics. She didn’t take home a medal this time, but her record after this is more than impressive.
Between 1973 and 1985, Lucinda won 10 European Championship medals, including 2 individual golds, 1 individual silver, 2 team golds, 3 team silvers, and 1 team bronze. To top off her medal collection, Lucinda helped the British Team bring home a silver medal from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
But that isn’t everything! In 1977, in addition to her European Championship gold medal, Lucinda also won both Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials. During her career Lucinda won Badminton 6 times, on 6 different horses, the only rider to ever achieve this.
Today, Lucinda focuses most of her time selecting team members, working as an equestrian journalist, and coaching.
Learn some tidbits of cross-country riding from Lucinda in this video.
Conclusion – Famous Horse Riders In History
We hope you enjoyed getting to know another group of legendary riders in the second part of our famous horse riders in history series. Some of the riders here started off with humble beginnings. They worked hard to stand above their peers in the sport.
Do you have a favorite rider? Let us know in the comments below.
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Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.