McLain Ward rode ZZ Top VH Schaarbroek Z in the Puissance competition at the Central Park Horse Show in New York, New York on Thursday, September 22nd. He tied for 1st place with Andrew Kocher and C’Havinia, with both riders attempting the final height of 6’9″. Earlier in the evening, Ward won the $40,000 Canadian Pacific CSI3* Speed with HH Carlos Z.
For Ward, it was a last minute decision to enter the class, but Ward already knew the horse well (the gelding also competed in the Under 25 class with young rider Oliver McCarthy, who rides with Ward) and got a little encouragement from longtime manager Lee McKeever.
“We had the horse here with my rider Oliver, and I have actually sold this horse a couple of times and bought him back a couple of times,” Ward explained. “I have not ridden the horse in five years, but he is an easy catch ride. He is a wonderful grand prix horse who really knows his job.”
Ward continued, “Everyone knows the story of Lee and I – we have been together 30 years – and when we were driving here tonight he said, ‘Why don’t you want to do the
Puissance? Are you getting a little chicken?’ I said we didn’t really have a Puissance horse, and he said that horse could do it. I thought about it for a few miles, and I said, ‘Do you think we can still enter?’ He kept saying that I was afraid, and we went back and forth for about 10 miles, and so I told him to enter me in the class.”
Ward is no stranger to Puissance competitions. In fact, he has won many (including seven times at the Washington International Horse Show), and noted that the highest he has cleared is a staggering 7’3″.
“I also attempted to jump an 8-foot wall six different times, but never cleared it. I have no intention of doing that again!” Ward laughed. “The last round I thought looked quite big tonight. It jumped up a little bit in the last round (from 6’3″ to 6’9″). It was interesting though, because I thought in the second to last round my horse jumped it better, and I thought in the last round Andy’s horse jumped it better. So it was pretty even at the end. I thought it was a nice, exciting class with horses jumping very well.”