Back on Track with McLain Ward
For years, McLain Ward has been a force to be reckoned with. His accolades include a 2015 Pan American Games Team Bronze Medal, winning two Team Gold Medals as a representative in the U.S. at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing, respectively, and now earning the title as the 2017 FEI World Cup winner in Omaha, NE. Hot on the heels of his success in Omaha, he has become a household name now more than ever before. Here, he shares his thoughts on riding, traveling, and the life lessons he’s learned along the way.
EJ: At what point did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
MW: I don’t remember not planning on doing this. So pretty early.
EJ: Would you rather be riding or training?
MW: I like riding. And, I enjoy teaching a particularly talented student. General day to day teaching, some people have a love for. It’s not my love. I enjoy working with a particular level of student, where it’s exciting for me. But I love riding, and if I’m really honest, I love competing. There’s a lot of talk that you’re supposed to say that you love the journey as much as the destination. I practice really hard so I can win when I get in the ring. I love to compete and I love to really put it on the line, and that’s what my greatest pleasure is.
EJ: In all of your international travels, where has been your favorite place to visit, and where has been your favorite place to compete?
MW: My favorite place to go for sure is Rome. It’s an incred- ible city—the show is right in the middle of the city’s center and I think it’s a great atmosphere. For me, the best show in the world is Aachen. It’s like no other place.
EJ: If you could dabble in another discipline, what would it be?
MW: I would probably give up horses if I had to do another discipline. I love show jumping. I’m not great on the flat and I’m not brave enough to do three-day eventing, so it probably wouldn’t work out too well for me.
EJ: If you weren’t a professional rider, what would you do?
MW: If I wasn’t a rider I would build houses. I like houses—I could buy and sell. We do some small real estate in Florida and I enjoy that and redoing them. I would probably do something along those lines, probably on a little larger scale.
EJ: What is a life lesson that you’ve learned from the horse industry?
MW: I think the greatest life lesson that the horse industry teaches you is resilience. It’s a challenge working with another living animal, and there are good days and bad days, and there are frustrating days. And, it’s by no means simple. I think you have to learn to keep coming back to work the next day and try to figure it out and find a solution, and to continue to improve. I think people who make it to the top of the sport typically have a pretty resilient character, for good or bad.