byMegan Docherty| Apr 7, 2017
When news was announced yesterday that Beezie Madden’s Olympic and World Cup “Best Horse” mount, Cortes ‘C’, has officially been retired, you could almost hear the show jumping world’s collective sigh. The very definition of a winner, Cortes ‘C’ was inducted into the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Horse Stars Hall of Fame in 2015. But years before that, Cortes earned worldwide acclaim thanks to his distinctive cross-legged jumping style, his impressive bravery, and his ability to produce consistently clear rounds in some of the biggest pressure-cooker events on the globe.
In 2014, all these traits were on display when Beezie and Cortes entered the National Horse Show Grand Prix. On this day, “Tiny’s” height and length came in particular handy when he stretched himself over the course’s final, 1.60m oxer and promptly demonstrated the difference between a good horse and a great one.
Eight riders made it into the jump-off that year in the National Horse Show. However, of those eight, only four would be clear again in the second round. Candice King set the initial time to be beat aboard the 15-year-old veteran mare, Kismet 50. But in the end, it all came down (as it so often does) to McLain Ward and Beezie Madden to decide a victor. Ward went first and he and the little chestnut Rothchild set a mighty fast time which looked nearly impossible to beat.
Before their ride, John Madden instructed Beezie to use Cortes’ scope and risk it in the final gallop to the oxer—the only point on course she could conceivably beat Rothchild for time. As instructed, Beezie opened up Cortes’ stride as she galloped for home, leaving, it seemed, impossibly long to the last fence. Cortes C took it all in his stride, however, demonstrating a boldness and trust in his rider that had become the pair’s signature in the ring. In the end, their final time would be seven seconds faster than Candice King’s initial time to beat.
Pulling out all the stops to win, Cortes ‘C’ and Beezie Madden’s spectacular finish was and still is one of their most watched victories on YouTube with more than 81,000 views! You can check out that daring approach to the last fence below.
Enjoy your retirement, Tiny! We will miss watching you in action!
-Photos by Erin Gilmore.