McLain Ward

McLain Ward (born October 17, 1975) is an American show jumping competitor and three-time Olympic medalist.

McLain Ward
HH Azur, WC Jumping.jpg
McLain Ward riding HH Azur in the 2017 FEI World Cup Jumping Finals
Personal information
BornOctober 17, 1975 (1975-10-17) (age 44)
Mount Kisco, New York, U.S.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Ward won the team jumping gold medal for the United States, together with Peter Wylde, Beezie Madden, and Chris Kappler.[1] He again won team jumping gold at the 2008 Olympic Games, riding Sapphire alongside teammates Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden and Will Simpson. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Ward won team jumping silver for the United States.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Ward was born in Mount Kisco, New York to Barney Ward and Kristine Lindsey. His hometown is Brewster, New York. He graduated from Greenwich Country Day School in 1993.[3] His parents were professionals in the horse industry and encouraged him to ride. His father was his main business partner for much of his life. In 1990, at age 14, he became the youngest rider to win the United States Equestrian Federation’s Show Jumping Derby. Later that year, he became the youngest rider to win the USET Medal Finals and became the first and youngest rider to win both titles in the same year.[4]


Ward won the Hampton Classic Grand Prix aboard his Selle Francais bay gelding, Twist Du Valon, in 1998 and 1999. They were the first rider-horse combination to win the Classic's Grand Prix back-to-back two years in a row. Ward became the youngest rider ever to reach the $1 million prize money mark in grand prix competition in 1999.[5]

At the 2004 Olympic Games, Ward won the team jumping gold representing the United States.

Ward rode with a broken collarbone in the 2005 Samsung Super League when the United States team won the Championship.[6]

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 was 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 to the FEI.[7] In July 2010, the FEI and McLain Ward agreed, to avoid extensive litigation, 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.[8][9]

In 2010, Ward was featured in the television series A Rider's Story[10] along with fellow Olympian Laura Kraut.

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, hitting his kneecap on a jump standard. Ward was to heal for eight weeks.[11]

Ward's horse Sapphire was retired May 14, 2012 at the Devon Horse Show. That night, Ward won the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon.[12][13] November 28, 2012 Ward won the $10,000 Welcome Stake aboard Ilan Ferder and Missy Clark's Zhum CW, a Dutch Warmblood (KWPN).[14]

At the 2012 Olympics in London, 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-Final Round, and 5th in Team Jumping-Qualification Round 1.[15]

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Ward again rode for the U.S. Team. His mount was HH Azur, owned by Double H Farms and Francois Mathy. At the time of the Olympics Azur was 10. He earned a team silver medal, and placed 9th individually. He stepped into the role of anchor for the team on the final day of team competition after teammate Beezie Madden's horse suffered an injury. He had near perfect rounds all week, dropping only one rail all week.

In 2017 McLain won the Longines FEI World Cup Championship. It was his 17 appearance at the final. The highest he had placed up till then was 2nd in 2009. He won riding his 2016 Olympic mount HH Azur, an 11 year old mare. He completed the week with no penalties after five rounds of jumping, one rail (four faults) ahead of the second place rider.

In April 2017, McLain Ward was ranked #1 in the Longines FEI world rankings for the first time. He was ranked #1 through June 2017, but in July 2017, Kent Farrington was ranked #1 and McLain Ward was ranked #2 in the world. This was the first time 2 American stood at the top of the Longines FEI world rankings.[16]

Ward currently has horses of his own, as well as riding for owners such as Double H Farm of Ridgefield, Conn. As of 2018, he is now starting to train. During the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, he taught rider and teammate Adrienne Sternlicht.[17]

Recently, Ward has won 5 Grand Prixs at the during the 2020 winter circuit in Wellington, Florida.

International Championship ResultsEdit

Year Event Horse Placing Notes
1995 World Cup Final Orchestre 10th
1996 World Cup Final Omnibus 24th
1997 World Cup Final 38th
1998 World Cup Final Orchestre 39th
1999 World Cup Final Beneton 17th
2002 World Cup Final Viktor 4th
2003 World Cup Final Viktor / Onyx 66 23rd
2004 World Cup Final Goldika 559 38th
2004 Olympic Games Sapphire   Team
27th Individual
2005 World Cup Final Sapphire 16th
2006 World Equestrian Games Sapphire   Team
7th Individual
2007 World Cup Final Sapphire 8th
2008 Olympic Games Sapphire   Team
5th Individual
2009 World Cup Final Sapphire  
2010 World Cup Final Sapphire 30th
2010 World Equestrian Games Sapphire 10th Team
7th Individual
2011 World Cup Final Antares F / Rothchild 10th
2011 Pan American Games Nikita F   Team
4th Individual
2012 Olympic Games Antares F 6th Team
29th Individual
2013 World Cup Final Super Trooper De Ness 5th
2014 World Cup Final HH Carlos Z / Rothchild 9th
2014 World Equestrian Games Rothchild   Team
5th Individual
2015 World Cup Final Rothchild 20th
2015 Pan American Games Rothchild   Team
2016 Olympic Games HH Azur   Team
9th Individual
2017 World Cup Final HH Azur  
2018 World Cup Final HH Azur 4th
2018 World Equestrian Games Clinta   Team
4th Individual
EL = Eliminated; RET = Retired; WD = Withdrew

Personal lifeEdit

Ward married in October 2008.[18] His father, Barney Ward, died in 2012 of cancer.[19] Ward has two daughters: Lilly who was born in February 2015 and Madison born in February 2020.[20][21] His hobbies include golf and basketball.[22]


  • Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "McLain Ward". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2020-04-18.
  1. ^ "2004 Summer Olympics – Athens, Greece – Equestrian" Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback (Retrieved on April 27, 2008)
  2. ^ "McLain Ward". Team USA. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  3. ^ "McLain Ward". Team USA. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  4. ^ "Home". Mclain Ward Inc. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  5. ^ "McLain Ward, On Twist Du Valon, Makes Classic History | The East Hampton Star". Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  6. ^ Papows, Jeff (2011). Unbridled Passion: Show Jumpings Greatest Horses and Riders. Acanthus Publishing. Archived from the original on 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ FEI resolves legal dispute over World Cup disqualification Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine, July 2, 2010
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^
  11. ^ Sorge, M. (2012, January 12). Updated: McLain Ward Breaks Leg In Fall. Retrieved December 5, 2012
  12. ^ Network, U. (n.d.). Mclain Ward. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from USEF Network website: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-12-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Tie, B., Inc. (2012, May 15). Show jumping superstar Sapphire retired at age 17. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from Horse Channel website:
  14. ^ 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:
  15. ^ Olympics, N. (n.d.). Mclain Ward. Retrieved December 12, 2012, from NBC Olympics website:
  16. ^ "Home". Mclain Ward Inc. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  17. ^ "Double H Farm - Wellington, FL - Ridgefield, CT". Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  18. ^ "McLain Ward". Team USA. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  19. ^ "Barney Ward Passes Away". Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  20. ^ "McLain And Lauren Ward Welcome Baby Girl". Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  21. ^ Showjumping, www worldofshowjumping com, World of. "A daughter for Lauren and McLain Ward | World of Showjumping". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  22. ^ "McLain Ward". Team USA. Retrieved 2018-10-05.

External linksEdit