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Legendary show jumping horse Sapphire has died at age 19

The great chestnut mare was a veteran of two Olympics and two World Equestrian Games.

By Leslie Potter | June 22, 2014

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The United States show jumping community has lost one of its legends in Sapphire, the longtime partner of rider McLain Ward. Sapphire died on Sunday, June 22 due to complications from colic, according to the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). Sapphire was officially retired from competition in 2012.


McLain Ward and Sapphire at the 2010 Washington International Horse Show.

 

Known around the barn as Sara, the 1995 Belgian Warmblood was a familiar sight on the international show jumping circuit—and in the winner's circle—for many years. With Ward, she was part of the gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic teams in Athens in 2004 and at the 2008 Beijing Games (the equestrian events were held in Hong Kong.) The pair was also part of the silver-medal winning team at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Together, Sapphire and Ward have a record of victories too long to list. Highlights include a second-place finish at the 2009 FEI World Cup Final, multiple victories at the Grand Prix of Devon, the Hampton Classic, the Washington International Horse Show and the Spruce Meadows International.

Sapphire
Sapphire and McLain Ward at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Photo: Leslie Potter

 

"Sapphire epitomized a great mare,” former U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George Morris told the USEF. "She was the anchor of so many U.S. teams; she had the scope, she was careful, I can’t say enough good things about her. She was one of the greatest horses of the century.”

Sapphire is survived by several offspring. She had two foals in 1999 and 2000 prior to beginning her competition career, and had a filly and a colt born one year ago by embryo transfer. She also has two clones, Kara BC and Kidjaz BC, now four years old. Whether those clones will see the inside of a competition arena is to be determined; they will likely be used for breeding to carry Sapphire's successful genes into future generations.

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Legendary show jumping horse Sapphire has died at age 19

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Brenda    New Orleans, LA

6/26/2014 5:52:59 PM

The Great Performance Horse Sapphire Dies
a video of one of her performances

Look at that blaze! Wow! It is as strikingly unique as Sapphire's great talents! What a magnificent horse. That course was too hard though!!!!! But Sapphire was a hopping and floating wonder... Like a ballet dancer doing greatly difficult things, but you would never know it because it seems like they aren't even breathing. They are in some zone above us executing their effortless Olympian feats like flowing water.
To the Great Sapphire in heaven now: You will be forever admired and never forgotten...You are in our visual and spiritual consciousness for good. Thank you for this wonderful video of Sapphire's sheer floating greatness...
Thank you splendid Sapphire for giving the world great beauty from your ceaseless efforts, year in and year out.
You are immortal. We salute you. We love you.
Brenda Du Faur
***

gael tryles    holly, MI

6/25/2014 9:12:18 PM

Iam so sorry about the loss of Saffire. I'm glad that she had a few years of retirement. I'm glad that that she was retired still healthy and well. I'm sorry for everyone connected to her. I know it is very painful. Saffire was a super star. She will be missed by many.

gael tryles    holly, MI

6/24/2014 9:38:08 PM

I'm sorry to hear about Sapphires passing. I', glad that she had 2 years of retirement. Although I think that she enjoyed the work that she did it was good that someone was (Mclain?)looking after her and seeing that she retired when she did. She left the ring in good health to go home to retire and to be with people who loved her. I'm so sorry.

gael tryles    holly, MI

6/24/2014 9:36:56 PM

I'm sorry to hear about Sapphires passing. I', glad that she had 2 years of retirement. Although I think that she enjoyed the work that she did it was good that someone was (Mclain?)looking after her and seeing that she retired when she did. She left the ring in good health to go home to retire and to be with people who loved her. I'm so sorry.

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