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Dreams Come True: Momentous Leaps

By Michelle Choate
Robert Ridland ’68 returns to the Olympics, this time as the U.S. Olympic equestrian team coach
In 1976, Robert Ridland ’68 competed for the U.S. team in equestrian jumping at the Montreal Olympics. Forty-five years and a distinguished international career later, he journeyed to Tokyo for his second stint as the U.S. Olympic equestrian team coach. Under his strategic leadership, the U.S. jumping team earned the silver medal after an intense jump-off battle with Sweden in the jumping team final. The Tokyo result equaled the team’s accomplishments of Ridland’s first run as team coach at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they also received silver. 

Ridland adds Olympic-medal-winning coach to his long list of accomplishments in the equestrian world. As a show jumper, he won numerous jumping events prior to the 1976 Olympics, including the 1971 New York Grand Prix, the 1974 Switzerland Grand Prix, the 1975 Toronto Rothman Grand Prix and the 1976 Tampa Invitational Grand Prix. 

He has been involved in the administration of the sport, serving as a board member of the U.S. Equestrian Foundation and the U.S. Equestrian Team, and as a technical delegate for several World Cup finals. Ridland’s vast experience as an international course designer, includes courses for the U.S. Olympic Trials, and he has earned the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Course Designer of the Year award twice. Ridland has also been a color analyst for televised jumping competitions for NBC, CBS and ESPN. In 2018, he was inducted into the Jumping Hall of Fame. 

Apart from his U.S. Equestrian Team commitments, Ridland serves as the co-founder and president of Blenheim EquiSports. 

Photo by Taylor Pence/US Equestrian

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