The USEA is sad to share that Custom Made was put down at the age of 34. “Tailor” was best known for winning the individual gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with David O’Connor in the irons. He was the last horse to win a classic long format Olympics and was one of only four U.S. horses to win individual gold – making him a truly special part of the history of eventing.
Tailor was an Irish Sport Horse gelding (Bassompierre x Purple Heather) owned by Joseph Zada and ridden throughout his illustrious career by David O’Connor. He was bred in Ireland by Kitty Horgan and Elizabeth O’Flynn and found by William Micklem for O’Connor to ride at the age of 9.
“Tailor was laid to rest on Wednesday of this week. I was lucky to have been there,” said O’Connor. “We are all saddened with him being gone, but he will never be gone from our hearts. He was truly a being that are few and far between.”
O’Connor and Tailor started their career together in 1995 and that same year they won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. The following year they were fifth individually at the Atlanta Olympic Games and were third at the Badminton CCI4*.
In 1997, O’Connor and Tailor returned to Badminton and won it – the last American pair to win the prestigious event. The pair flew back to England in 1999 and finished fourth in the Blenheim Three-Day Event. Following their success at the 2000 Olympics, Tailor and O’Connor never placed outside of the top-five with great results including third at the 2001 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, second at the 2002 Groton House Advanced, and first at the Over the Walls Advanced. In their final event together, O’Connor and Tailor beat 63 competitors to win the 2002 Fair Hill International Three-Day Event.
“He was an amazing athlete – the best I have ever been around. I felt, especially at the end, that really I was a part of his career more than he was a part of mine. He raises my awareness of what special mean. Special athlete. Special character. Special time that we enjoyed together. You can’t trade that for anything,” concluded O’Connor.
Tailor was officially retired at the 2004 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and he was inducted into the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame in 2009 alongside O’Connor.
Following his retirement Tailor starred in demos, musical kurs, taught riders the art of cross-country (often bridless!), fox hunted, and babysit youngsters on their first hacks around the property. Tailor competed at his last event at the age of 17 and lived out the final 17 years of his life at Stonehall Farm in Virginia with the “fab four” Giltedge, Prince Panache, and Biko.
Watch Custom Made being inducted into the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame:
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.