Your favorite horse and rider of all time

When I was watching American Pharaoh make history yet again in the Haskell on Sunday, I got the feeling that I was watching what is likely to be the best racehorse of our generation. Our Secretariat. Our “Tremendous Machine”. He’s poetic and beautiful to watch, and the love and appreciation that the people around AP have for him is palpable. That said, I’m still not sure if he’ll ever overtake Zenyatta as my sentimental favorite. I got into an actual debate with myself and Zenyatta won out. (Remember how I said I love the solitude of barn sitting? These are the kinds of pressing issues that I apparently spend a lot of time thinking about when the only time I speak to other human beings is at work. Woot, hermitism!)

Then, of course, because my mind is ever-wandering, I expanded beyond racing and into showjumping and eventing.

Joe Fargis has always been my favorite jumper rider. I saw him ride Edgar at a Grand Prix while I was working on the East Coast and he left such an impression on me in just that one day. He was so tactful, so soft, so quiet, and yet totally effective. Edgar was a little spooky at the tents when he first came into the ring, and Joe just quietly walked him past, patted him, whispered some words of comfort, smiled, picked up his reins, and proceeded to give everyone a riding lesson.

My favorite jumper would probably have to be Rhythmical. He was little, he was spicy, and he was fierce. I remember watching all the Grand Prix classes on ESPN in the late 90’s and just waiting for Rhythmical’s turn in the jump off… you always knew you were in for a wild ride. He always gave 100% and was so fun to watch. Plus how could you not love his rags to riches story?

My favorite event rider for many years now has been Buck Davidson. He has always impressed me with his compassion and genuine love for his horses, and how appreciative he’s always appeared. Considering he was born into this life it wouldn’t been really easy for him to take it all for granted. It seems like a lot of upper level riders don’t always feel much attachment to their mounts, but you can tell how much Buck loves his crew… especially Reggie. I also admire the fact that Buck was not blessed with the tall, thin physique of so many other top riders – yet he rides every bit as beautifully as they do. He’s an inspiration to us “commoners” in that way. You don’t have to fit the George Morris mold of physical perfection to ride well.

Speaking of Reggie aka Ballynoe Castle RM- he gets my favorite eventer spot too. How could you NOT love Reggie? He’s wise beyond his years, super consistent, mega talented, and obviously has a great brain. I want one of those. I think we ALL want one of those.

I haven’t watched enough dressage or other disciplines to even begin to pick favorites there.. I’ll have to get to work.

Who do you love?

 

18 thoughts on “Your favorite horse and rider of all time

  1. Being lucky enough to actually have watched Secretariat sail his way to history, he’s in my top 3 horses ever, Barbaro being in that trio; like you, though, my personal favorite will always be Ruffian. Short though her life was, she was indomitable, beautiful and simply spectacular. I have absolutely no knowledge of dressage or jumping so can’t weigh in there.

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  2. Winsome Adante. Sigh.

    I still respect the hell out of Karen O’Connor, even with the last missteps with Mandiba. I loooooooved Upstage, and Teddy. I was lucky enough to see Teddy in person at Rolex in 2007.

    I also still love the combo of Amy Tryon and Poggio II.

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  3. I’m not as knowledgeable as I should be (#giantfail) but here are some of my favorites:

    Event riders: Boyd Martin, Tamie Smith. I met Boyd at a horse trial and few weeks ago, and I met Tamie Smith at Jersey Fresh this year. I hadn’t heard of her before Jersey Fresh, but how she handled the whole thing with her horse hooking his shoe to his girth, she instantly became my new fave. And Boyd is just a genuinely cool dude and a great horseman.
    Event horses: Shame on the Moon (Emily Beshear), Reggie (Buck), Fleur de Lis (Tamie)

    Jumper riders: I was on Team Reed (Kessler) for a long time, but when I saw Jessica Springsteen at WIHS last year, she eclipsed Reed as my new favorite jumper rider. I mean, the girl does a Grand Prix class and a Puissance class with her mare in a hackamore….that’s just impressive. And, Jessica is from NJ, which automatically makes her awesome. I’ve loved Beezie Madden since I was a kid, because she’s a legend and an all-around bad ass rider. Beezie was one of the first show jumpers I ever watched, and she’s a big reason I became hooked on the jumper ring. I also love to hate Tori Colvin, mostly because she’s so good at such a young age and wins like, everything.
    Jumper horses: Lisona (Jessica Springsteen), Cortes C (Beezie), Hickstead (Eric Lamaze), Flexible (Rich Fellers)

    TBs: Charismatic, Barbaro, Silver Charm, American Pharaoh

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  4. I have a thing for the old guy Flexible. Being his age and competing at the level he does, gives me hope/inspiration that Cosmo can keep on keeping on a few more years at a MUCH lower level.

    I’ve always been a big fan of Beezie, but more recently Karl Cook (and his awesome horse Jonkheer Z) caught my eye at a couple big events in So Cal. He’s part of the younger group of riders doing Grand Prix’s but his rides always look so smooth and natural, like a more experienced rider.

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  5. My favorite dressage horse is Valegro. My favorite show jumping horse is Snowman, the rags to riches horse from the ’50s. For horse racing, I love Seabiscuit and American Pharoah.

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  6. Dude. Hard questions. So hard.

    I like Rich Fellers because he doesn’t play George Morris’ games. I like Beezie Madden because she’s a tiny woman with a giant can of whoop ass. I want to be Reed Kessler, but I don’t know if that means I like her or not.

    I head nothing but the best about Buck and definitely respect him getting things done while thumbing his nose to GM (respectfully). I love Dom and Jimmie because they’re so blue collar and they give me someone(s) to root for.

    I’m a total American Pharoah fan. Also Man O War, because of Walter Farley. Oh wow… Can I just make a giant list of horses I am a fan of instead of trying to narrow it down?

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  7. Oh geez. Horse racing is such a difficult topic for me to pick favorites in. It is what I grew up with. That said, I think you may have noticed that my “name” on here is Holy Bull. Which is of course, directly related to the horse bearing that name. I loved watching him when I was an even smaller being. I also love me some Citation, Kelso, Ruffian, Zenyatta (got to see her race in Del Mar!), Cigar, etc.

    Also, before I even knew pretty much anything about jumping, I knew Beezie Madden was awesome. So awesome.

    I can’t really tell you mt favorite eventers (because I just don’t know) but I can tell you my husband’s. WFP and Lucinda Green. Lucinda was picked because he liked playing her computer game…

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  8. My favorite Showjumper rider was Michael Matz. He always seemed like the consummate horseman to me. My favorite show jumper was Touch of Class. She was perfection.

    I never really followed eventing all that closely, so don’t have any favorites there.

    Now, horse racing, ahhhh. I have been lucky enough to have seen some amazing races live at the rail. I think the best race I ever saw, the one that will forever give me goosebumps was watching Rags to Riches win the 2007 Belmont. Seeing that big beautiful chestnut and white face loom up on the outside final turn and put away the likes of Hard Spun, then go toe-to-toe with Curlin down the stretch, never giving an inch. That was magic. What a tough mare.

    For jockeys, I was always a fan of Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez, and of course Rosie Napravnick.

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  9. Charismatic will always be my absolute favorite racehorse. The boy cannot even bring up his Belmont around me or we will get in a huge argument. 🙂 I don’t care that he is probably right (because he is on most things involving horse racing, he’s way more involved with it from a handicapping perspective than I am).

    I did get to see Zenyatta’s classic win though and that is one of my all time favorite horse racing experiences.

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  10. Snowman will always be my favorite jumper. He was everything.
    Man O War. Greatest racehorse who ever lived. I will fight anyone who disagrees with me on this one ;P
    Windfall was my muse and my love as a child and I actually got to HANDLE him while I worked for his owner years later in college. A true dream come true to meet my favorite eventer of all time!

    As a pair, I also grew up with Carol and Erin Go Bragh and also got to meet them both! In addition I also met and rode Darren who piloted Windfall in the Olympics and that was…just wow. ❤ I cant ever forget the O'Conners either. Or the jumping Beerbaums. So many honorable mentions too!

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  11. Eventers? I love WFP, and I adore Chili Morning. I also love Arthur, though I think he’s a bit of a dick. Clearly there’s something about redheads. I really respect Marilyn Little. Girl’s got brass ones.

    Showjumpers? Margie. Man. No one beats Margie in a jump off for sheer drama. And the horse would have to be Hickstead. Those heels. I loved how he would kick them up.

    Dressage? Charlotte is a top pick, but I think I actually like Carl Hester more. He’s brilliant and tactful and very logical. Parzival, Adelinde’s horse, has always made me drool. He’s so lovely and expressive. When he is on, he’s amazing.

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  12. Haven’t watched enough show jumping, but for eventing I love Buck and Reggie, Tiana Coudray with Finn, too many to name actually. Lots of favorites =)
    And I’m gonna be the first to throw a saddleseat horse into this mix with Skywatch – he was just mesmerizing.

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  13. Favourite (famous) rider of all time is Stacy Westfall, and no I haven’t ever competed in Western classes. I just love how sensible and grounded and openminded she is, despite being kind of a genius. When she rides into the arena with the bellowing crowd on Wizards Baby Doll, a few minutes before claiming a reining record, without a saddle or a bridle or a neck strap, and that mare’s head is just nodding and she’s licking and chewing… you just can’t fake that kind of horsemanship.
    Favourite famous horse ever is Valegro. He must have the most phenomenal mind. I’ve only seen videos, but never once have I seen him lay an ear back in any of them. I love how Dujardin can have him EXTEND his canter and then ask him to sit down and pirouette and that big horse doesn’t give her a twinge of resistance. He does everything with equal joy and willingness.

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  14. I’ve always loved Flexible because he’s still so competitive at an age most horses have been retired by. And Hickstead was also fun to watch. I love watching old videos of Gem Twist on youtube.

    Also I can’t say who because of confidentiality, but I’ve gotten to spend an hour hanging out with one of the horses/riders on your list and it was pretty darn cool. =-)

    Don’t really follow riders as closely as horses, but at least I recognize most of the names people are throwing out there!

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