Jumping two, developing horses in the CSI4* division at The Hampton Classic Horse Show was a heck of a way to return to competition in the USA after several years in Europe. But with head-turning style, 23-year-old Theodore Boris pulled it off, reminding those who got to know him during his days as an equitation star that he intends to make his mark again, this time as a professional.
It was circa 2012 that Boris became a household name on the equitation circuit. Originally from Southern California, Karen Healey guided him to countless junior wins, including the USET Medal Final, WCE Medal Final, USEF Regionals, and multiple Maclay Finals appearances and top placings.
After his junior career, he went to Europe and stayed there, working with several horsemen and developing an ongoing partnership with Jos Lansink in Belgium. While equitation provided a good base, it was in Europe that he learned to appreciate the top of the sport, as well as what it takes to get there.
With a passion for bringing along young horses, in 2014 Boris stepped out on his own with a small sales business. His goal is to buy and sell, but keep his two top horses—Hip Star and Icon D’Or—in his string and keep developing them as his grand prix partners for the future.
It was those two horses that he jumped the grand prix qualifier and Longines Cup with over the weekend in The Hamptons. Hip Star is a Swedish warmblood that came from Peder and Lisen Fredricson in Sweden. “He had a really nice upbringing with their rider Stephanie Holmen,” Boris says. He jumped the bay gelding (Hip Hop x Baloubet du Rouet) on the young horse circuit in Europe, and competed him at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series earlier this year.
Icon D’Or was previously ridden by Tim Wilks of Great Britain, and Boris bought the Belgian bred gelding after he saw a video of Wilks jumping a brilliant double clear in the young horse finals in Valencia last fall.
“Equitation for me was a base, but I was really interested in the top sport and championship level,” Boris adds. “It’s all I can eat, sleep and breathe.”
Like many young professionals, Boris is looking upwards to the top of the sport, and with a strong Israeli heritage, the California-native represents Israel in competition.
Riding under that flag opens up an opportunity to bring a team to the 2017 European Championships–possibly.
“When I saw in 2014 that [fellow Israeli rider] Danielle Goldstein was trying to put together a team,” I took interest.” Boris explains. “Now, the big goal is to build a team for the next Olympics. And the goal is to have good horse-rider combinations, not just be present at the Olympics.”
It’s an ambitious, and intriguing goal. There are a handful of Israeli show jumpers scattered around the world; just 36 Israeli athletes are registered with the FEI, and less than 10 compete at the international, grand prix level. It was at the FEI Nations Cup at the 2014 Winter Equestrian Festival that Goldstein coordinated the successful effort to enter a team from Israel. It was a first for the sport, and while it hasn’t happened again, riders from Israel were inspired by that first step.
With his two up and coming 8-year-olds, Boris is well positioned to perhaps represent Israel on a future team. As he works to step successfully into international grand prix competition, he’ll continue his East Coast tour with a stop at next week’s American Gold Cup CSI4*-W in North Salem, New York.
“My horses are still green and they need work, but they have a lot of quality and I think next year, they will be really serious horses,” Boris says.
He’s certainly got the formula right—by basing himself in Europe he’s immersed himself in the culture that surrounds the top of the sport. He plans to return to Europe next season, and if all goes well, he’ll pack his bags for the European Championships at Goteburg next August. And from now until then, it’s clear that Theo Boris will be a noteworthy rider to keep tabs on.