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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Men and women competing on an equal basis in an Equestrian Battle of the Sexes – Showjumping Champion Candice King

Equestrian battle of the sexes team presentation

A grand prix competitor for almost two decades, Candice King has been in the saddle since she was a toddler before going on to make her grand prix debut at the age of 19. She was the top-placed U.S. rider at the 2001 FEI World Cup Jumping Final and was the first U.S. rider since Mary Chapot’s 1968 victory to win the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead in 2001. She has ridden in 13 Nations Cups, the first of which came in 1990. 

Candice King
Candice King – Copyright Lindsay Yandon and Jennifer Wood Media, Inc

Candice – it sounds like you have been in the saddle almost as long as you’ve been on your feet! What drew you to horseriding?

ShowjumpingMy parents always had horses. I was raised with horses in our yard. Ever since I was a little girl I loved the competition and communication with horses and myself. It was always something that intrigued me, so it was a natural step into becoming a professional.

It’s a great sport. It’s the one sport in the Olympics where men and women get to compete equally. Battle of the Sexes is a lot of fun for us because we get to go against one another.

Please can you tell us about the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival Battle of the Sexes and where the idea for it came from?

It’s the 7th year for Battle of the Sexes [at Palm Beach in Florida] and I have been involved every year. The premise is to get people involved at the beginning of the circuit so we can draw crowds every Saturday night.

Local people who aren’t involved with horses enjoy it because they can understand the men vs. women idea. The women have won every year, so the boys really wanted to win going into this year. Boys are sore losers to be honest, so every year gets a little more exciting.

What happened this year?

The boys were feeling pretty confident after leading the first two phases, but we girls are always game in the six bar, which is a high jump. When it was down to one girl and we tied them there was a lot of heated competition behind the scenes. It was eventful – a little like a hockey game. I think next year they will come back and try even harder since they’ve had the taste of coming close to a victory.

Can men and women compete on an equal basis when it comes to equestrian sports?

Winter Equestrian FestivalYes, but it’s a unique sport because a horse isn’t a vehicle, it is a partner and it’s also a sport where we get better as we get older. That part where you have to have that relationship with the horse is unique in itself.

We are competing against each other, but when you walk into the ring it’s you and your horse against the course. There’s a lot of pieces to the sport that are intriguing to a lot of people.

How evenly matched were the teams in terms of skill and experience?

They were close. I would say I think the boys may have had a little more horsepower going into the end, but we were pretty evenly matched.

Are the styles and approaches of the male and female riders noticeably different?

One thing is that we are built differently and it’s not about strength, it’s about leverage being on top of a horse and keeping them balanced. The girls have to ask and the boys can tell. The women have more of a bond because the men can be a little stronger physically. Men are a little more mechanical and women more compassionate.

What’s the competitive rivalry like between both teams?

Winter Equestrian FestivalIt’s a lot of fun. At the end of the day we were all having fun, but we are all very competitive. In the heat of the moment the competitive edge comes out. There’s a lot fun and chaos.

The overall result ended up in a tie this time. Was this the only way to keep the peace?!

I was willing to go again at the very end but the boys didn’t want to go anymore. We decided for the horses’ sake it was best to end in the tie, but those boys wanted us girls to forfeit. No chance – we were not giving up. We were going to fight ’til the end.

What can we expect for next year?

I definitely think we are all going to come out punching with good horse and good competition. Both teams from this year are going to be fired up to get that win.

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