Rio 2016 venue: Olympic Equestrian Center (Deodoro Zone)
Competition dates:
  • Eventing: Aug. 6-9
  • Dressage: Aug. 10-15
  • Jumping: Aug. 14-19
Medal events: 6 (mixed individual and team for each discipline)
Olympic introduction: 1900 (Paris, France)

The U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team enters the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with top accolades in its portfolio. Proven it can compete and deliver outstanding results among the world’s best, the U.S. will use its momentum as a catalyst to reach the podium.

One of the only Olympic sports in which men and women compete against each other, equestrian is an ancient art that has been modernized for today’s Olympic landscape. The sport has three disciplines: eventing, dressage and jumping. All events will be held at the Olympic Equestrian Center in the Deodoro Zone, and feature both an individual and team competition.

The United States qualified for the Rio Olympic Games in dressage and eventing by winning team gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games. Previously, the U.S. Show Jumping Team earned its Olympic berth by clinching the team bronze medal at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. 

Currently ranked No. 3 in the world, four-time Olympian McLain Ward (show jumping) has finished consistently in the top three in Grand Prix competitions throughout 2016. Along with four-time Olympian Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden, the duo will lead two Olympic newcomers, Lucy Davis and Kent Farrington into the Games.

Three-time Olympian Steffen Peters will guide three Olympic newcomers on the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team: Allison Brock, Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass. Graves and her horse, Verdades, known as Diddy, burst onto the scene in 2014 after finishing second behind Peters in the USEF Dressage National Championships. The combination heads into the Olympic Games as the 2015 USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Champions.

A couple of Olympic veterans and two newcomers comprise the 2016 U.S. Olympic Eventing Team. Six-time Olympian Phillip Dutton and two-time Olympian Boyd Martin are joined by rising eventing starts Lauren Kieffer and Clark Montgomery. Kieffer made a name for herself when she and her Olympic mount, Veronica, won the 2014 USEF CCI4* National Championship title after being the top-placing U.S. rider at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The combination won the title again in 2016.

Overall, U.S. equestrian athletes have consistently produced top finishes in high-level international competitions, demonstrating the talent and growth of U.S. equestrian. Currently, five U.S. equestrian Olympians are among the top-10 athletes in the world in each of their respective disciplines. 

Athletes To Watch
Kent Farrington 
Farrington’s equestrian talent was evident at a young age, and now at age 36, he finds himself a top-ranked international success. He has consistently produced outstanding results with multiple horses, proving his horsemanship and athletic ability. In 2014, he was a member of the bronze medal-winning Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Then in 2015, he won the $400,000 RBC Grand Prix at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows National Tournament and the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix at GCT Hamburg CSI5*. He was also part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Laura Graves
Graves and her mount Verdades, known as Diddy, came to the 2014 USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship as unknowns. However, they quickly became the duo to watch as they finished second behind then three-time Olympian Steffen Peters. Their performance earned them a spot on the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Dressage Team, in which they finished fifth in the world in the grand prix freestyle. In 2015, Graves and Diddy won team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan American Games and capped off a spectacular season by winning the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship.

Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden
Since the 2012 Olympic Games, two-time Olympic team gold medalist Madden has focused on building her depth of horses after the retirement of Authentic, who led the U.S. for the better part of a decade. Madden returns to the Olympic Games with Cortes ‘C,’ who has the potential to help Madden return to podium glory. With Cortes ‘C,’ Madden has added a successful string of international victories to her impressive career resume. An intense and spirited competitor, Madden returned to competition in 2014 after taking a six-week hiatus due to a broken collarbone. She helped the U.S. to victory in the Nations Cup of Great Britain and added individual and team bronze medals at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games where Cortes ‘C’ earned the coveted Best Horse of the Final Four title. In 2015, Madden and Cortes “C” helped the U.S. team win the 100th Nations Cup of Germany.

Boyd Martin
After representing the U.S. Eventing Team at the 2012 Olympic Games, Martin returns to the 2016 Games. After suffering a broken leg in March 2014, Martin returned to competition in May 2014 showing he was back in top form by finishing third in the Luhmühlen CCI4*. He went on to represent the U.S. on the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, finishing eighth – the highest placed American. With up-and-coming partner Pancho Villa, Martin helped the U.S. Eventing Team win the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games, the first medal of his career. Martin will appear in the Rio Olympic Games with Blackfoot Mystery, an American-bred off-the-track thoroughbred. The combination placed sixth at the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

Steffen Peters
Following the 2012 Olympic Games, Peters has focused on winning with Legolas 92 and Rosamunde after retiring Ravel, the mount that carried Peters at the past two Olympic Games. Legolas 92 and Peters have accumulated three USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship titles (2012-13-14) and helped the U.S. Dressage Team to a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. In 2015, Peters earned top-international finishes with both horses and Legolas 92 carried him to individual and team gold medals at the Pan American Games. Thus far in 2016, Peters has not placed lower than fifth in international competition and has notched 21 wins. 

McLain Ward
McLain Ward enters the Rio Olympic Games with his electrifying equine partner, HH Azur. The flashy combination won six grand prix competitions in 2016, which helped propel Ward to the No. 1 world ranking during the month of June. Ward was part of the team bronze medal-winning effort at the Pan American Games, where he also won an Individual gold medal with Rothchild. The combination was also part of the team that collected bronze at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. 


  • Laura Graves abandoned her career as a hairstylist to turn her unruly horse Verdades, known as Diddy, into a dressage superstar. The duo was relatively unknown until they squeaked into the 2014 USEF Grand Prix National Championship and took reserve champion behind then three-time Olympian Steffen Peters. From there, they haven’t looked back. They earned a spot on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Team, placing an impressive fifth in the grand prix freestyle. In 2015, they earned team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan American Games and capped an amazing year by winning the 2015 USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship.

  • Whether it’s American Pharaoh or Secretariat, these winning thoroughbreds are household names. But perhaps the greater story is that of retired racehorses who are given a second chance, most notably in the sport of eventing. The off-the-track thoroughbred has made an incredible mark on this challenging sport. U.S. Olympian Boyd Martin and his off-the-track thoroughbred, Blackfoot Mystery, will compete in Rio. Olympic teammate Phillip Dutton is working with Michael Phelps’ former racehorse, Water Cube, who has shown to have a potential evening career.

  • Laura Kieffer left her small mid-western town in Illinois at age 18 to train under Olympic eventing greats, David and Karen O’Connor. Now, at 29, she will compete under U.S. Eventing Team coach and her mentor, David, at the Rio Olympic Games. Throughout her time with the O’Connor’s, she learned the ins-and-outs of horsemanship and eventing. Both David and Karen gave her the opportunity to shine with horses they formerly competed, Tiger Too and Veronica. Lauren and Tiger Too completed several three-star events, including the 2007 Jersey Fresh International in which she won the Markham Trophy as the top-placed rider under 21. When Karen retired from the sport, Kieffer got the ride on Veronica. She earned her first USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship title with Veronica after being the top-placed U.S. rider at the 2014 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The pair repeated this feat in 2016.