Olympian Karen Stives gives $1m for US eventing

Karen Stives and Ben Arthur on their way to individual silver and team gold at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Karen Stives and Ben Arthur on their way to individual silver and team gold at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. © FEI

US Olympic eventer Karen Stives has donated a million dollars to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation for an endowment fund for high performance eventing.

The gift from Stives will fund an annual grant for an eventing high performance activity that will have a direct impact on the United States ability to win medals at CCIO competitions. Last Friday, the Foundation hosted a special reception to honor members of its Gold Medal Club and announce the Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing.

Bonnie Jenkins, Philip Richter and Karen Stives at last week's United States Equestrian Team Foundation reception.
Bonnie Jenkins, Philip Richter and Karen Stives at last week’s United States Equestrian Team Foundation reception.

About 150 guests attended, including owners, riders, trainers, parents and Gold Medal Club supporters of the USET Foundation. Membership in the Gold Medal Club, which was established in 1980, honors those who donate $1000 or more annually.

USET Foundation flags and red roses decorated the tables. A poster of Stives and Flying Colors suspended in time and space over a huge ditch with brush jump on the landing side expresses perfectly the importance of her involvement in and financial support of High Performance Eventing.

USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie B. Jenkins said that Stives’s generosity was “simply extraordinary”.

“Karen and our other Gold Medal Club members make it possible for the USET Foundation to help fund teams for the WEG, the Olympics, Pan American Games and all the High Performance programs and international competitions that take place throughout the year.”

USET Foundation Treasurer Philip Richter said Stives’s gift to the USET Foundation would a direct impact on the country’s ability to win medals.

In introducing Stives at the reception, US Chef d’ Mission Jim Wolf said that no one rider has given as much back to the sport.

“As a rider and donor I think she’s really setting a tone. Selector, donor, rider, volunteer, judge – she has done all those things for the love of the sport, for the people and the horses,” he said.

Stives partnered with the challenging but talented Ben Arthur, owned by her mother, to become the first woman to earn an individual silver Olympic medal in eventing in 1984 (Los Angeles) where she anchored the US to win the team gold medal. During her two decades in eventing, Stives was named USCTA (now USEA) Rider of the Year in 1981, ’87 and ’88. She has stayed involved ever since.

“My wish is to assist our riders to compete at the very highest level and to encourage them to give back to the sport in any way that they are able,” Stives said. Stives spoke softly with great passion about learning to connect with an independent personality that does not speak our language, how it requires patience, listening, understanding and compromise. She gave special thanks to her horse Ben Arthur who taught her the most.

“It was basics, basics and more basics that ultimately proved the key… Let’s bring back gold from Normandy!” Stives said.


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