This article is provided through a partnership between the USEA and Athletux.
If you haven’t heard of Ryan Wood, you should probably write his name down. He is one of the brightest young stars for Australia and just happens to be based in the United States riding and competing at the top levels. He began riding in Australia, where he took up the sport of Eventing and flourished. He had plenty of success early on in his career with numerous top three results at the two- and three-star level and a top fifteen finish at the Adelaide CCI4*. He, like most riders, had the dream to ride alongside the greatest riders in the world for his country and to be the best. Fast-forward to 2008, while things were going well he knew in order to continue to grow he had to make a change. That’s when he made the difficult yet rewarding decision to move to the United States to follow that dream, a decision that would lead him to where he is today.
When he first arrived in the States it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There are many elements that a foreign rider must adapt to in order to ride and compete in a different place. Everything from something as simple as stabling at events to the types of cross-country fences you see are different. Wood brought a few horses over with him but they to had to adjust, and over the years Wood was faced with injuries and setbacks. Luckily his mentor was someone who had been in his exact shoes before, Phillip Dutton. Wood persevered and it was the actions and decisions he made then, with the help of the people around him, that led him to where he is today.
Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
By coming to the United States he was submerging himself with the best; training with Phillip Dutton, working on his dressage with Silva Martin, and show jumping with Richard Picken, it was only a matter of time before Wood really had his breakout year. Mixing good coaching with a group of very supportive owners and friends, his confidence in himself and his horses was growing. He had many good results in the United States over the years and with his confidence growing, his string of horses did as well. Coming in to 2016 he felt this could be his year. He had the horsepower and was backed by eight years of training in the States to go alongside his determination and tenacity. Wood had all the ingredients for success.
Wood explains, “ This year I felt like I was and am really able to produce consistently good results at the top level. It’s the product of being able to produce and bring these horses along since they were three and four years old. It’s been a process that’s paying off.”
His spring began with many top results on all his horses, from Novice up though three star. Wood then didn’t take only one, but three horses to contest the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the only four-star in North America. He finished off the weekend with two in the top half of the results, quite an achievement at his first Rolex Kentucky. He went back to work immediately and soon after got his biggest win to date. Together, Ryan and Summit Sporthorse’s Powell won the 2016 Jersey Fresh CC3*, leading from start to finish, and beating out many future 2016 U.S. Olympic horses. He didn’t stop there. Wood went on to win both the CIC3* and CCI3*divisions at Bromont Horse Trials in Canada, on Woodstock Bennett and Frankie respectively. This feat, rarely accomplished, garnered him a place in the Top 25 of the World on the FEI leader board for the first time, a huge accomplishment for someone who has worked so hard for this moment.
With the Rio Olympics looming, Wood was excited to learn to he and Powel would be placed on Equestrian Australia’s Long List for the Games. The work Wood has diligently put in paid off and while he just barley missed the cut for this year’s games, he will continue knocking on the door of future Australian Teams for upcoming championships.
Ryan Wood and Powell on their way to winning the 2016 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Already this fall Wood is proving that his breakout spring season was no fluke. Earlier this month at the 2016 Nutrena American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover it was Wood who found himself atop the leaderboard once again with Powell, this time it was the leaderboard for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final. Not only did he take home a $20,000 check, but he also piloted Woodstock Bennett to earn the reserve champion position as well. Wood also had two other Advanced horses in the Top 20 and three other top 10 results in the Merial Intermediate and Preliminary Championships. The fall season has started off with a bang and Wood looks to continue to build his positive momentum going into the fall three-day events.
Those around Wood and the Eventing Community as a whole admire him not just for his riding but also for the dedication and horsemanship he shows. Wood leaves no stone unturned and is always making sure his horses are feeling their best. This combined with his support system of coaches, owners, friends and students create the perfect atmosphere he needs to succeed and continue to grow. Expect to continue to see his name at the top of leader boards and some day soon, on Championship Teams representing his home country. Wood has proven that with patience, hard work and dedication the skies are the limit and is looking forward to seeing what the next eight years will bring.
You can learn more about Ryan Wood on his website, www.woodstockeventing.com.