McLain Ward

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McLain Ward
2008 Olympic Games Equestrian Game Day Racing Round 2 03.jpg
Ward with Sapphire, 2008 Olympic Games equestrian in Sha Tin, Hongkong
Personal information
Born October 17, 1975 (1975-10-17) (age 40)
Brewster, New York, U.S.

McLain Ward (born October 17, 1975 in Brewster, New York) is an American show jumping competitor and Olympic champion.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Ward won the gold medal as part of the United States team in Team jumping, together with Peter Wylde, Beezie Madden and Chris Kappler.[1] He continued to compete as an Olympian, winning the team gold for show jumping at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics with Laura Kraut (Cedric), Beezie Madden (Authentic), and Will Simpson (Carlson vom Dach) and McLain's horse, Sapphire.

McLain has been recognized as a dominant competitor on the jumper circuit since his junior days. When he was just 14, he won the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Show Jumping Derby as well as the equitation medal finals, becoming the youngest rider in history to win both in one year. McLain proved to be a fierce competitor, even riding with a broken collarbone in the 2005 Samsung Super League. McLain fought through the pain to help the United States team capture the Championship.[2]

Ward found himself at the center of controversy at the 2010 World Cup Final in Geneva, Switzerland. His mount, Sapphire, was eliminated after the second round of jumping due to hypersensitivity in her left forelimb. Sapphire had placed second in both rounds prior to elimination, and was at the top of the overall standings at the time of the disqualification. McLain challenged the ruling, stating that FEI had sent technicians to flex Sapphire repeatedly throughout the night until she turned up lame. He believed this may be in part to Sapphire dominating competition throughout many FEI events, and FEI no longer wished for the pair to compete in the World Cup. The FEI appointed veterinarian stressed that there was no indication or evidence of any malpractice by McLain Ward or any member of the team.[3] In July 2010, the FEI and McLain Ward agreed, to avoid extensive litigations, that Sapphire was incorrectly eliminated. However, Sapphire’s disqualification from the final round of the World Cup remained in place. The FEI also decided to develop mandatory guidelines for hypersensitivity tests.[4][5]

In 2010, Ward was featured in the television series A Rider's Story[6] along with fellow Olympian Laura Kraut. McLain is married to Lauren Ward, who is an avid competitor in the amateur divisions.

On the evening of January 14, 2012, when Ward was riding Oh d'Eole in the $30,000 Surpass Grand Prix, Ward suffered an injury. "She jumped so high jumping into the combination over A that I went to pull her out from the B, but she left the ground anyway. Then, I hit my kneecap on the standard." Ward states. Doctors told Ward that he should spend eight weeks on crutches, not putting weight on his leg.[7] November 28, 2012 Ward wins $10,000 Welcome Stake aboard Ilan Ferder and Missy Clark's Zhum CW. This was Ward's first vicotory on Zhum CW. Zhum CW is an eight-year-old KWPN.[8]

At the 2012 Olympics in London, England, Ward rode for the USA Olympic Equestrian team. He placed 29th in Individual Jumping-Final Round A, 24th in Individual Jumping-Third Qualifier, 6th in Team Jumping Final Round 2, 20th in Individual Jumping Second-Qualifier, 7th in Team Jumping Finial Round 1, 1st in Individual Jumping-Finial Round, and 5th in Team Jumping-Qualification Round 1.[9]

Sapphire Retired[edit]

Ward's mount Sapphire was retired May 14, 2012 at the Devon Horse Show. That night Ward won the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon.[10] Sapphire has two Olympic team gold medals and a World Equestrian Games silver to her name. Sapphire has been one of the most well known mounts in international show jumping circuit in recent history[citation needed]. Sapphire, also known as Sara around the barn, is a chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare. She carried her rider and co-owner McLain Ward to victories around the world, and making every jump look effortless[citation needed]. Sapphire has won a fan base over the years. Ward and co-owners Blue Chip Bloodstock have suggested that Sapphire will be bred, but no plans have been made yet about the sire. When Sapphire suffered an injury at the end of 2011 winter circuit in Florida, Ward gave her a full year to recover. She was back in competition but Ward broke his knee riding another mount, leaving him unable to ride. Ward was focused on bringing her back for the 2012 Olympics but there were challenges, and she was not ready to be in the Olympics. She was retired earlier than Ward planned.[11]

On June 22, 2014 Ward wrote on his website that Sapphire died due to complications from colic.


  1. ^ "2004 Summer Olympics – Athens, Greece – Equestrian" (Retrieved on April 27, 2008)
  2. ^ Papows, Jeff (2011). Unbridled Passion: Show Jumpings Greatest Horses and Riders. Acanthus Publishing. 
  3. ^ McLain Ward’s World Cup horse disqualified from Final Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., announcement of the International Federation of Equestrian Sports(FEI)
  4. ^ FEI resolves legal dispute over World Cup disqualification, July 2, 2010
  5. ^ Der Fall McLain Ward und Sapphire: Die FEI knickt ein (german; "The case of McLain Ward and Sapphire: The FEI cave in"), July 3, 2010
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sorge, M. (2012, January 12). Updated: McLain Ward Breaks Leg In Fall. Retrieved December 5, 2012, from updated-mclain-ward-breaks-leg-fall
  8. ^ Media, J. W., Inc. (2012, November 28). McLain Ward Kicks Off Holiday & Horses With a Win on Zhum CW. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from USEF Network website:
  9. ^ Olympics, N. (n.d.). Mclain Ward. Retrieved December 12, 2012, from NBC Olympics website:
  10. ^ Network, U. (n.d.). Mclain Ward. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from USEF Network website:
  11. ^ Tie, B., Inc. (2012, May 15). Show jumping superstar Sapphire retired at age 17. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from Horse Channel website:

External links[edit]