Torrance Watkins was born into a foxhunting family, and made her hunting debut at age four. After spending part of her high school years in Peru, she went on to attend the University of Denver, but, as she has put it "wherever I went, I found horses."
So she pursued that passion, making her way up the international ranks in the 1970s. She represented the United States in three World Championships (1978, 1982, and 1986), winning team silver in 1978 at Lexington, Kentucky and team bronze in 1982 in Luhmuhlen, West Germany. Torrance also brought home two Olympic medals, first the individual bronze from Fointainebleau in 1980, with the 15.1-hand Paint mare Poltroon.
"I think that Torrance was the first real star that our world had," said Jim Wofford. "Her ride on Poltroon really captured the general public and was one of the reasons we got more air time."
Four years after that Olympic performance, Torrance's double clean cross-country and show jumping rides on ex-racehorse Finvarra helped the U.S. team win the gold at the Los Angeles Games, and she and Finvarra finished fourth individually. Her international career also includes a second place finish at Burghley with Poltroon and fourth place with Finvarra at Badminton. In 1980 she was named the USCTA Rider of the Year, and was named USCTA Leading Lady Rider five times (1979, 1980, 1983, 1984, and 1985).
Torrance's skill as a competitor opened up new career paths, as a successful cross-country course designer, event organizer, and clinician. Several years ago she relocated to Hardwick, Massachusetts and established a training facility at her Morningfield Farm, where she and partner Erik Fleming host the Over the Walls Horse Trials, which debuted in 1999. Torrance works double duty as organizer and course designer for the event.
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