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

McLain Ward
2008 Olympic Games Equestrian Game Day Racing Round 2 03.jpg
Ward riding at the 2008 Summer Olympics
Personal information
Born October 17, 1975 (1975-10-17) (age 42)
Brewster, New York, U.S.

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 aboard Sapphire along with Laura Kraut (Cedric), Beezie Madden (Authentic), and Will Simpson (Carlson vom Dach).

When Ward was 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, though George H. Morris had won the medal and the Maclay at age 14. McLain rode with a broken collarbone in the 2005 Samsung Super League when the United States team won 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 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.[3] 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.[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 competes in the amateur divisions, and has a daughter, Lilly Ward.

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.[7] By November 28, 2012 Ward won the $10,000 Welcome Stake aboard Ilan Ferder and Missy Clark's Zhum CW, a Dutch Warmblood (KWPN).[8]

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.[9]

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 now was 2nd in 2009 (see earlier paragraph). 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.


Sapphire RetiredEdit

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 a well known mount in international show jumping.[citation needed] Sapphire, also known as Sara around the barn, is a chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare.[citation needed]. Sapphire won a fan base over the years.[11] On June 22, 2014 Ward wrote on his website that Sapphire died due to complications from colic.

Current MountsEdit

Ward currently has horses of his own, as well as riding for owners such as Double H Farm of Ridgefield, Conn.[12]


  1. ^ "2004 Summer Olympics – Athens, Greece – Equestrian" Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback Machine. – (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 Archived 2010-07-25 at the Wayback Machine., 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
  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: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  11. ^ Tie, B., Inc. (2012, May 15). Show jumping superstar Sapphire retired at age 17. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from Horse Channel website:
  12. ^ "Double H Farm - Wellington, FL - Ridgefield, CT". Retrieved 2016-07-24. 

External linksEdit