Thom Schultz and his wife Laura Coats were on a horse buying trip to Ireland and just happened to stop by Ireland’s Young Event Horse Competition at the 1998 Punchestown Three-Day Event. A very tall liver chestnut horse was being shown there and in just the couple of minutes it took to watch him jump two fences and gallop through the finish, he impressed Schultz enough that he arranged to try the horse. Gina Miles had just taken over as manager of Schultz and Coats’ Rainbow Ranch in Paso Robles, California and when McKinlaigh (Highland King x Kilcumney Hostess) finally arrived in the U.S. it was agreed that Miles and McKinlaigh would work together to see how far they could go.
In their first two years together, the pair won nine out of the 10 events they entered, and by the age of 7 the Highland King son had completed his first CCI3* and the pair had been named to the USEF Winter Training List. The 17.3 hand McKinlaigh placed 11th at his first CCI4* at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2002, earning him a place on the U.S. Team for the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, where they finished 25th. A win in the Galway Downs CIC3* and another 11th place finish at Kentucky in 2003 saw them heading to Malmo in Sweden for the World Cup Final where McKinlaigh won the bronze medal. He improved his placing at Kentucky from 11th to ninth in 2004 and in 2006 placed fourth in The Fork CIC3*, first in the Rebecca Farm CIC3*, and first in the Fair Hill International CCI3*. That year he won the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series and was the USEA Horse of the Year.
In 2007 he was 15th in the Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* and was on the gold medal team at the Pan American Games in Brazil, also winning the individual bronze medal. His crowning glory came in 2008 at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong. His brilliant performance earned an Olympic silver medal for Miles, Schultz, and Coats and ensured a place for his name in the history books of eventing.