Jan 25, 2020

McKinlaigh (1994-2020)

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
McKinlaigh at the 2008 Olympics. Shannon Brinkman and RedBayStock.com Photos.

The USEA is sad to share that the 2008 Olympic Silver medalist, McKinlaigh, was laid to rest last Saturday, January 18 in Templeton, California at the age of 26.

Thom Schultz and his wife Laura Coats purchased McKinlaigh in 1998 after seeing him in Ireland’s Young Event Horse Competition at the Punchestown Three-Day Event. 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 McKinlaigh had completed his first CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) and the pair had been named to the USEF Winter Training List. The 17.3 hand McKinlaigh placed 11th at his first CCI4* (now CCI5*) 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.

McKinlaigh retired following the Olympics with a perfect cross-country record and spent his remaining years with Schultz and Coats in California.

“McKinlaigh was one of those horses who defined the word greatness,” said Miles. “Not only did he shape my entire life but he inspired so many others. From the pony clubbers who learned from him, the fans that followed him, and those of us that he took along the most glorious ride. You will be cherished forever.“

"Laura and I have been so very blessed to have McKinlaigh in our lives, 11 years competing to the level of Olympic individual silver medal and induction into the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame," said Schultz. "God bless McKinlaigh, Chris Ryan, Gina Miles, Sarah Williams, Brian Sabo, and so many fans - also our friend Cheryl Miller who took such good care of McKinlaigh for 11 years of peaceful retirement."

In 2015 McKinlaigh was inducted into the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame. Watch his induction speech here:

The USEA sends our sincerest condolences to all who knew and loved McKinlaigh.

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