Top Riders to Serve as Mentor Grooms

Several top U.S. riders will serve as mentor grooms to the young riders participating in the George Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, Fla.
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Several top U.S. riders will serve as mentor grooms to the young riders participating in the George Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, Fla.

January 9, 2007 -- In an innovative weeklong clinic, several of the United States' top equitation riders will provide hands-on tutelage as "mentor grooms" to young riders at the George Morris Horsemastership Training Sessions, held at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Fla., January 15-20. (Click here for more clinic information and the schedule of events).

The mentors will guide the young riders in the care of their horses and discuss aspects of barn management and horse care. The mentor grooms include:

Margie Engle

"Gutsy," "determined" and "relentless" are but a few of the adjectives regularly used to describe one of the United States" most successful show jumping riders of all time--Margie Engle. Engle has over 175 grand prix wins under her belt, has been named American Grand Prix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year nine times, and has been on more than 20 winning Nations Cup teams. In 1991, she was named AHSA Equestrian of the Year. In 1992, Engle was named the Rolex/National Grand Prix League Rider of the Year, a feat she repeated in 1993.

In 1999, Engle rode Hidden Creek's Alvaretto to the Team Silver medal at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Engle was the highest placed woman and the highest placed U.S. rider in the individual competition riding Hidden Creek's Perin to a 10th place tie in the Individual Show Jumping competition and a sixth place Team finish. Engle has so many "firsts" and records in her career; they are too numerous to mention.

Engle has persevered through serious injuries including a crushed leg in 1990, which she followed with five major AGA wins in 1991. She suffered a broken hip when a horse fell on her in 2004. Just three months later, riding her Olympic mount, Hidden Creek's Perin, Engle beat a field of 26 entries that included eight Olympians, to win the $100,000 Cosequin Invitational Grand Prix in Culpeper, Va. She came back with a vengeance to successfully compete in 2005, and in 2006 she has led the World Cup standings all year. Her performances on the U.S. team as part of the 2006 Samsung Super League tour have led to an Individual win in Aachen as well as a team second in the Nations Cup there.

Engle rode Hidden Creek's Quervo Gold in the 2006 World Equestrian Games to assist the United States in securing the show jumping silver medal.

Engle lives in Wellington, Fla., with her husband, Dr. Steve Engle, and is well-known for her incredible sense of humor.

Beezie Madden

Two fundamental accomplishments say it all about Beezie Madden's international success. She was the first woman--and the first U.S. rider--to ever reach the Top Three in the Gandini Show Jumping World Ranking list (achieved in 2004), and she was the first woman to pass the million dollar mark in earnings for show jumping. Originally from Milwaukee, Wis., Madden has been riding since the age of three and made her grand prix debut in 1985.

Four years of continued success followed, which included participation on winning U.S. Nations Cup teams, which led to her being named the 1989 United States Olympic Committee's Female Equestrian of the Year. So far in 2006, Madden has had multiple successful rides including her role in the Samsung Super League tour as part of the U.S. team that finished second in the Nations Cup in Aachen, aboard Authentic.

In the past few years, Madden has been a critical member of the United States Teams. Riding in six out of the eight competitions, she anchored the team for the 2005 Samsung Super League which the U.S., the only non-European team competing in the League, decisively won. Also in 2005, she won the million dollar CN International at Spruce Meadows in Canada on Judgement, and won the $200,000 American Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Authentic. At the 2006 World Equestrian Games, Madden, aboard Authentic, clinched both the team and individual silver medals in show jumping.

In 2004, Madden breezed through the Olympic Selection Trials finishing in first place on Authentic with only eight faults accumulated for all six selection events. With her contribution of double clear rounds in the Athens Olympic Games, she helped the U.S. team win the Gold medal, while her success on U.S. soil earned her the American Grand Prix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year title in 2004. At the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic, she was a member of the Gold medal U.S. team.

Over the years, other laurels include the 1997 Rolex/USET Show Jumping Championship and the AGA title that year; the Mercedes German Masters and the Audi Grand Prix in 2003.

Married since 1998, Madden and her husband, horseman John Madden, reside in Cazenovia, N.Y.

McLain Ward

With a history of firsts in his background, McLain Ward has an international grand prix prowess that only continues to increase with age. In 1990, and at 14 years old, Ward became the youngest rider ever to win both the USET Medal Finals and the USET Talent Derby. He would go on to turn that into a legacy, winning from 1990-1992. After graduating to the grand prix circuit, he wasted no time in making a name for himself, and eventually fulfilled his Olympic dream in August of 2004 as a part of the gold medal-winning show jumping team in Athens. In addition, Ward has competed in 10 World Cup Show Jumping Finals and numerous Nations Cup competitions.

In 2006 Ward had success showing in Europe as part of the Samsung Super League U.S. Team. He was a member of the U.S. team that took second-place in the Nations Cup in La Baule, France and Aachen, Germany, both aboard Sapphire. Ward also had three individual wins in LaBaule, including a speed class featuring 54 entries. For his incredible results that week, Ward was given the Best Rider Award. Ward was also a key part of the successful Samsung Super League series last summer until a fall on course at Hickstead resulted in a broken collar bone. Ward courageously rode in Aachen not long after, and his double clears aboard Sapphire propelled the U.S. to the Nations Cup victory there.

Ward's clear round aboard Sapphire at the 2006 World Equestrain Games helped the United States secure the team silver in show jumping.

Ward claimed several wins in the 2005 competition season, including first- place finishes at the $35,000 Old Salem Farm Grand Prix II in North Salem, N.Y., and in Round 1 of the $25,000 Winter Equestrian Festival Challenge Cup in Wellington, Fla., both riding Goldika 559. Other major career highlights include a first on Goldika 559 at the 2004 $100,000 International Open Jumper Presidents Cup Grand Prix in Washington, D.C. Ward also won the 2002 $50,000 USET Show Jumping Championship in Gladstone, N.J., riding Viktor, and placed second riding Sapphire in the 2004 $100,000 Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Championship in Del Mar, Calif. Ward was named American Grand Prix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year for the 2001-2002 competition season. He is the youngest rider to reach the million dollar mark in grand prix winnings.

Lauren Hough

Lauren Hough is the daughter of prominent hunter judges Linda and Champ Hough, who was on the 1952 Three Day Event Olympic team. She kept the Olympic tradition in the family, riding Clasiko to a 6th place team finish and a tie for 15th place in the individual show jumping competition at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Following her Olympic appearance, Hough placed second in the $100,000 President's Cup at the Washington International Horse Show in Washington, D.C.

Through her junior years Hough earned hunter championships in all major divisions. In 1993 she made her debut on the grand prix circuit and earned the title of Pacific Coast Horseman's Association Rookie of the Year at the age of 15. she earned a second place finish in the 1997 $25,000 Ariat Challenge Cup Round II in Wellington, Fla.

In 1998, with several top 10 finishes on the Florida circuit, Hough placed fourth with Picasso in the $50,000 Four Points Inn Grand Prix of Tampa-CSI-W. In only her second appearance, Lauren placed fifth with Picasso in the $100,000 Budweiser American Invitational. Although showing only on a few occasions during the summer, she and Picasso earned a win at the $25,000 New Hope Welcome Class.

In 2000, Hough placed ninth in the $100,000 Rolex/U.S. Show Jumping Championship presented by the AHSA and the USET to advance her to the final U.S. Olympic Selection Trials in California where she placed 4th to earn her berth on the show jumping Olympic team. She earned a number of top finishes in 2001 with Windy City and Clasiko including a win in the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of New York at the National Horse Show.

In 2001, Hough tied for ninth in her first World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, and won the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of New York at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden.

In 2002, Hough and Clasiko were members of the U.S. team which won the first outdoor Samsung Nations' Cup held in the United States during the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival. She then repeated her 2001 National Horse Show Grand Prix win, winning it this time on Clasiko.

In 2003, Hough was one of two riders who were subjectively chosen for the show jumping team representing the United States at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. This marked the first time since 1990 that any places on a U.S. show jumping team competing at a continental or world championship or Olympic Games went to riders chosen subjectively.

Laura Kraut

Olympic veteran Laura Kraut's performance as part of the U.S. Team in the 2006 Samsung Super League tour led the U.S. to a second place in the Nations Cup in Rome, Italy, aboard Miss Independent. Kraut also spent much of the 2005 summer representing the United States in the competitive Samsung Super League series in Europe.

Kraut helped the U.S. secure wins in Aachen, Germany, and LaBaule, France, and second place in Rome, Italy, and in Hickstead, England, riding both Anthem and Miss Independent. Also in 2005, Kraut had a first-place finish at the $75,000 Cosequin Florida Open riding Miss Independent. Going into her seventh World Cup Final, Kraut ranked second in the East Coast League. In 2004, Kraut was a member of the second place team in the $50,000 Samsung Nations Cup in Florida, and helped the United States secure a fourth-place overall finish in the Samsung Super League. Kraut rode Miss Independent in the 2006 World Equestrian Games to assist the United States in securing the team silver.

In 2003, Kraut was the top-placed American at the World Cup Final, where she tied for the fifth position out of 41 starting horse-and-rider combinations. In 2002, she was a member of the U.S. Team which won the first outdoor Nations Cup held in the United States; and at the Samsung Nations Cup Series, she was named leading rider after tying for first place on Liberty in the individual competition.

Kraut was a U.S. team alternate at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Spain, and in the 2000-2001 competition season she was honored as reserve champion American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year. Kraut was also a member of the U.S. show jumping team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Kraut makes her home in Wellington, Fla., and enjoys spending time with her young son, Bobby.

Todd Minikus

Todd Minikus was a recipient of a U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) grant to represent the U.S. on a 1997 European tour. He is a frequent visitor to the winner's circle. Minikus and Ravel won the $100,000 Budweiser American Invitational in Tampa, Fla., in April 1997.

Minikus began showing at the grand prix level in 1985. He achieved great success with his grey Canadian Thoroughbred, Thrilling. Minikus rode Thrilling to four grand prix wins in 1989 and then took the show jumping world by storm in 1990 with an unprecedented sweep of all open jumper classes at the Washington International Horse Show, including the President's Cup. His record-setting performance earned him Washington's Ennis Jenkins Award as Leading Rider (he was both Leading Gentleman and Leading National Rider) to go with that year's Midwest Grand Prix Rider of the Year award. Thrilling also earned the honors of the Midwest Horse of the Year.

In addition to the 1997 European tour, Minikus represented the U.S. in the 1991, 1995 and 1997 World Cup Finals, and on a 1996 USET European Developing Rider tour.

He had five Grand Prix wins in 1998 and six more in 1999. He rode Oh Star to a 4th place finish in the $250,000 American Grand Prix Association Championship and tied for 6th at the Budweiser World Cup Final in April, 2000. His 5th place finish at the U.S. Olympic Selection Trials earned him the spot as the Alternate for the USET 2000 Olympic Games Show Jumping squad in Sydney, Australia.

His 2001 wins included the $50,000 Rio Vista Grand Prix at HITS Culpeper II, the $100,000 Cosequin Grand Prix at HITS Catskills IV, and the $100,000 Rolex/USET Show Jumping Championship at the Bayer/USET Festival of Champions at the US Equestrian Team Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, N.J. Following his win aboard Oh Star in the $175,000 Cargill Grand Prix of the United States held at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Minikus was named USET Athlete of the Month for July. In 2001, Minikus was named USA Equestrian Horseman of the Year and was awarded the William C. Steinkraus Equestrian of Honor Trophy.

In 2002, Minikus had a string of impressive placings during the Cosequin Winter Equestrian Festival.

Laurie Pitts

Laurie Pitts was born and raised in Minnesota and began riding at age seven. She showed in hunters and equitation, riding both her own horse and horses owned by others. Pitts began working as a groom and stable manager at the age of 15, and loved it. In Minnesota, Pitts worked for the VanSlouns (Colleen McQuay's family), Karen Jensen Mitchell, Frank Conway and Hans Senn, a professional who provided several horses to the USET in the '60s and '70s. Pitts moved to California in 1974 for a short time and worked for Leon Butts and Max Bonham while there.

In 1976, Pitts moved east to work for Rick Eckhardt and the Curreys on Long Island. She subsequently moved to Greensboro, N.C., to work for Joan Boyce and it is through her she met and helped Frances Rowe. She also worked for Rodney Jenkins before going to work for Joe Fargis and Conrad Homfeld when they opened Sandron in 1978. She stayed with them for six years.

Over the years Pitts cared for many equine stars, including: Mark of Success (CA), Rare Edition (CA), Gwynedd Silver Seal, Timeless, Popover Kid, Marengo, Sugar Blue (all ponies), Numbers, Beach Boy, Gamecock, Automation, Valor, Old English, Prime Time, Dutch Crown, Balbuco, Pueblo and Turf Fire.

Pitts went to Europe with the USET in 1978 for the World Championships with Balbuco and Pueblo, one of the last tours Bert deNemethy made. She also went to Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1979 for the first ever World Cup, with the same 2 horses. In 1980, Balbuco won the World Cup in Baltimore, the first American to do so. While in her care, Balbuco and Conrad were AGA Horse of the Year in 1979 and 1980.

Pitts is currently in business with Junior Johnson, showing young hunter prospects on the line and starting them on their performance careers. She also has a mobile horse care business, "Horse Care a la Carte."

Frank Madden

Frank Madden of Colts Neck, N.J., built his career and successful business from the ground up. After graduating high school early, Madden became a groom in Florida to support his family. Hard work and natural talent sent Madden to the to the top of his sport, first as a rider and later as one of the top trainers in the United States.

Madden has trained winning riders of virtually every major hunter seat competition, including the USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, WIHS Equitation Cup and USET Medal Finals, as well as top hunters at the Pennsylvania National, Washington International and National horse shows. His roster of victorious show jumpers is long and distinguished as well. He is a USEF "R" judge in hunter, jumper and equitation divisions, a popular clinician, and author of the book Fit to Show.

Madden owns and operates Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, N.J. One of his star junior riders, Brianne Goutal, clinched both the Pessoa/USEF National Hunter Seat Medal Final and the ASPCA Maclay in 2005, while Madden picked up the leading trainer award at Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Maria Schaub, also Madden's student, will be reporting on her experiences at the George Morris Horsemastership Training Session on her EquiSearch.com blog.