As the first few riders took to the course tonight, I noticed McLain Ward sitting quietly by the ring and studying their rounds. Having been there for now both of his 5* wins this WEF season, I have a newfound appreciation for the attention to detail and precision that he delivers with each of his rides.
Earlier this week, I watched him and HH Azur compete in the first round of the WEF Challenge, and then I noticed he was riding a horse in a smaller class over in the DeNemethy ring before he had to head back to the International Ring for his jump-off. I stood at the rail of the DeNemethy and watched as he made a jumper course look like an equitation round that he could’ve ridden with his eyes closed. One of my favorite things to do is to watch a rider like McLain up close in a smaller ring like that and focus on one part of their riding – on that particular day, I decided to watch how he carries his hands throughout the course. It was this same quiet accuracy and consistency in each part of his riding that I saw and appreciated that day, and again tonight as he made a 5* jump-off look just as effortless.
So there he was, off to the side watching and studying the course like any other rider would, and it was a moment that I didn’t want to forget tonight, especially as the thrill of his win leaves my fingers hovering over this keyboard at a loss as to how to convey everything I feel that is both so humbling and exciting about this sport.