US Olympic eventer Karen Stives dies at 64

Spread the word
  • 34
  •  
  •  
  • 1
  •  
  •  
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 Eventing Hall of Fame member and Olympic silver medalist Karen Stives has died at the age of 64.

Stives lost her long battle with pleural cancer on Friday.

She earned her place in Three-Day Eventing history when she rode her mother’s big grey gelding, Ben Arthur, to win the individual silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. A single rail down in show jumping lost her the individual gold to New Zealand’s Mark Todd, but the pair’s strong finish helped earn the team gold for the United States. Stives became the first of two women ever to win an individual Olympic Three-Day-Event medal – Virginia Holgate Elliott (Great Britain) won individual bronze at Los Angeles.

Bonnie Jenkins, Philip Richter and Karen Stives at a United States Equestrian Team Foundation reception in July 2014.
Bonnie Jenkins, Philip Richter and Karen Stives at a United States Equestrian Team Foundation reception in July 2014.

Stives was a New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work and plenty of natural ability, and she was called a “small package with a thousand-pound brain,” by longtime friend and colleague, Jim Wolf. At one time she contemplated trying out for both the US Eventing and Dressage teams in the same year – an idea she discarded after riding in two separate selection trials in the same weekend.

Stives was the USCTA Rider of Year in 1981, 1987 and 1988. She represented the US in many international Three-Day Event competitions on her wonderful Thoroughbred, The Saint, including the World Championships in Luhmuhlen in 1982. It was there that Karen’s mother, Lillian Mahoney, was taken by an Irish-bred horse named Ben Arthur who had been leased from a British rider by a member of the New Zealand team. Maloney purchased him for Stives after the competition, forming a partnership that would pay off two years later in Los Angeles.

Following her retirement from international competition, Stives became an FEI judge and chair of the USET Three-Day Event Selectors’ Committee for many years. In 2014, she donated $1 million to the USET Foundation which became known as the Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing. The funding awards competition grants to US riders including two of who competed at this weekend’s Nation’s Cup at Aachen.

Karen is survived by her significant other, Bob Hutchison; her sister Linda McCabe; and a niece and two nephews.

Source: US Eventing Association

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *