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Mares: The Fairer? Sex?

It is well known that a prejudice exists in the showjumping world against mares and it is not without some cause. Mares can be harder to ride, more highly strung and sensitive, and much more likely to accept suggestions rather than demands from a rider. While it is true that mares do not suit all riders, and few beginners, riders aiming at higher levels should not overlook them. That renowned sensitivity for which mares are famous can be channeled into carefulness with training and trust. With a rider who is equally sensitive and can form a true working partnership with a mare the results can be nothing short of amazing.
A quick glance at the record book confirms this at once. America’s two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, “Sapphire,” is a good case in point. Ridden by Mclain Ward she is a study in consistency, winning all over the world including last year’s Pfizer Million, the richest Grand Prix in the US. “Touch of Class” and rider Joe Fargis achieved the ultimate showjumping success winning both team and individual gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. “Kitty” as she was known to her fans had three strikes against her: she was a mare, she was small and she was hot. Yet, in the hands of Fargis, a master of American forward riding, she took on the world and made it look easy. At the 1992 Games in Barcelona the Dutch team were Gold medalists and four years later in Atlanta the Germans were victorious. What these teams had in common was a bay mare named “Ratina Z” who has the unique record of being an Olympic Gold Medalist with two riders, Piet Raymakers and Ludger Beerbaum.
Of course, no conversation about mares could be complete without mention of “Halla” who was the longtime mount of Hans Gunter Winkler. She is, to date, the only three-time Olympic Gold Medalist. She was quite sensitive, high strung and “marish” in every way. She was also, in the minds of many knowledgeable showjumping aficionados, the best horse in history!