USET Wins Team Bronze Medal In Eventing

The United States Equestrian Team (USET) won the Bronze Medal in the eventing team competition following the concluding stadium jumping phase Sept. 19 in Sydney.

Team USA finished with a three-phase total of 175.80 penalties to win its second straight Olympic team medal in eventing.  Australia won the team Gold for the third consecutive time, finishing with a score of 146.80.  Great Britain won the Silver with a score of 161.00.

Leading the way for the USET was veteran rider David O'Connor of The Plains, VA who turned in one of only three fault-free rides on the day on Giltedge, a 14-year-old, Irish Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars.  Nina Fout of Middleburg, VA had no jumping and five time penalties on her 3 Magic Beans, a 10-year-old, American Thoroughbred gelding; and Karen O'Connor of The Plains, VA clinched the medal when she scored 10 jumping penalties on Prince Panache, a 16-year-old, British Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars.

Karen O'Connor finished the three-phase competition with a score of 43.00 penalties, third best behind Stuart Tinney of Australia (41.00) and Ingrid Klimke of Germany (41.20).

For the O'Connors, it was a history-making performance as it is believed (although still unconfirmed) that they are they first husband-and-wife combination to share an Olympic medal twice.  They were both part of the USET's Silver Medal team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

“It really is incredible to be able to share something like this with the person with whom you are closest,” David said.  “I can't describe how it feels to stand on the medal podium with my wife.  It's not just a dream come true; it's beyond our dreams.”

The USET entered the day in third place after New Zealand failed to pass the required three horses through the veterinary inspection.  New Zealand's hopes for a team medal were dashed when Blyth Tait's 1996 individual Gold Medal horse Ready Teddy failed to pass the vet inspection.  New Zealand had elected not to present Paul O'Brien's Enzed.

Riding first for the USET, Fout guided her mount over the 16-effort course, including one double and one triple jump, with no jumping penalties.  “Today he was soft and relaxed,” Fout said.  “He really tried and I'm so proud of him.

“Up till now, I've tried to think of riding here as riding in another three-day event.  Now I think I'll be able to think of it for what it is – riding in the Olympic Games!”

David O'Connor then turned in his clean ride on Giltedge which has now been part of medal-winning teams at the 1996 Olympics (team Silver), 1998 World Championships (team Bronze), 1999 Pan American Games (team Gold and individual Silver) and 2000 Olympic Games (team Bronze).

“I'm very fortunate to have a horse like this; five medals, you just don't get that with many horses,” David said.

The last rider for the USET was Karen O'Connor who had two rails down at a triple bar at fence seven starting the toughest line of the stadium jumping course and a vertical at fence 8a, the start of the triple combination.  “He hit the triple bar with his front feet and that rattled him a bit because he doesn't usually have rails down,” Karen said.  “Then he hit the vertical before he regained his composure. After that he was alright.”

Karen's score of 10 penalties still gave her the third best score of the competition and gave the USET the team Bronze which continues a streak of the USET winning at least one medal at every Olympic Games, Pan American Games and World Championship since Captain Mark Phillips became USET chef d'equipe in 1993.

“What our team has done is the result of a comprehensive program that the USET has implemented with great planning and great organization,” Karen O'Connor said.  “Mark Phillips, Jim Wolf (USET Director of Eventing), and Denny Emerson (USET Eventing Vice President) and the whole organization have put together a winning program and we riders are proud to be part of it.”

Joining Fout and the O'Connors on the medal stand was teammate Linden Wiesman of Bluemont, VA.  The Tennessee native competed on Anderoo, an 11-year-old, American Thoroughbred gelding owned by James and Barbara Wiesman.  Although she was eliminated for two falls on cross country after her horse succeeded in jumping 16 jumps without his left front shoe, she was a key contributor on her first Olympic team.

“I reminded Linden that I fell three times in my first Olympics,” Karen O'Connor said.  “She is a very talented rider and she will learn from this as I did and as we all have.  I have no doubt that she has a brilliant career ahead of her.”

Full results are available at

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More