Custom Made to be inducted into KHP’s Hall of Champions

Olympic gold medalist was arguably 'most decorated horse to compete at the park'

Legendary eventing horse and Olympic gold medalist Custom Made will be posthumously inducted into the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky, according to a recent news release posted on the KHP website. The 17.1-hand Irish Sport Horse known to many as “Tailor” will be buried in the Memorial Walk of Champions, the final resting place for some of the most famous equine athletes.

“The sport of eventing is an integral part of the Kentucky Horse Park story, and this should be recognized in our Hall of Champions,” said President Lee Carter. “Custom Made is arguably the most decorated horse to compete at the park, having won the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (1995), Badminton Horse Trials (1997) and Olympic Gold (2000). While Custom Made is no longer with us, we are thankful to David O’Connor for allowing future generations the chance to learn the history of this amazing horse.”

Remarkable duo

Custom Made was foaled in Ireland in 1985 out of Bassompierre and Purple Heather. In 1998 he was imported to the United States by owner Joseph Zada of Xandarius, LCC to be a mount for David O’Connor.

Brant Gamma image; source: Kentucky Horse Park website

The two captured the hearts of Americans in their first year of partnership by winning the 1995 Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI3* at the Kentucky Horse Park. 

The following year, Custom Made and O’Connor finished third in the Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* and placed fifth individually in the Atlanta Olympic Games. They returned to Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* in 1997 to secure the win, making Custom Made the second American horse ever to win the prestigious competition.

The remarkable duo achieved their crowning moment at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, winning the eventing individual gold medal. This was the first eventing gold medal for the U.S. in 25 years. They continued a successful career together including the win of his final competition at the 2002 Fair Hill International Three-Day CCI3*.

Custom Made was formally retired at the 2004 Kentucky Three-Day Event and was inducted into the United States Eventing Hall of Fame in 2009.

‘Horse of a lifetime’

Tailor lived out the rest of his life at Jacqueline Mars’ Stonehall Farm in The Plains, Virginia. He died in October 2019 at the age of 34 with O’Connor by his side, ending a celebrated chapter in U.S. eventing history. “Tailor was the horse of a lifetime,” said O’Connor. “The most powerful horse I have ever sat on and a true gentleman of every sort. He was a great combination of athlete, legend and friend.”

A public ceremony will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park at a future date.

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