“Gutsy,” “determined” “relentless” are just a few adjectives used to describe one of the winningest jumper riders in the United States for more than three decades.
Margie Goldstein Engle spoke with Practical Horseman Editor Sandra Oliynyk for the podcast, covering topics such as her experiences as a working student, her early career riding tough horses, and the serious injuries she’s sustained over the years and how she could have prevented some of them.
Toward the end of the episode, Engle also shares her favorite jumping exercises, which include cavalletti and bounces. She wrote an article in Practical Horseman magazine, describing the exercises, which you can find here.
Other podcast highlights:
Discussing why she’s been so successful:
Margie Goldstein Engle: I just love being around [the horses]. They’re very majestic animals with big hearts, very trusting. They’re just beautiful animals to be around.
Talking about how growing up, the kids at her barn would dare her to do different things:
ME: They would put a strap around the [ponies’] necks and dare me to jump them bareback, and they’d longe me over a jump and have me stick my hands out or sit backward or stand up. I fell off a lot, but I had a good time. I was a little bit of a daredevil.
What makes her horses try so hard for her:
ME: The horses have kind of an unconditional trust for people in general, as long as you don’t do anything to break that trust and you keep them confident in the things you ask them. You don’t ask them for more than they’re capable of doing at that point. I think they feel what you feel, and if you’re confident and you instill confidence in them and are kind of gutsy, they feel that and feel like they’re going to try for you. I also think they sense if they like you. I tell people if you’re a student in a class, you’re going to learn a lot more from a teacher you like than one you don’t like. It’s just kind of human nature.
Handling nervous energy:
ME: Normally when I go in and jump the course, there’s enough to think about with the jumps and the striding and what your horse is doing. I just try to focus on what they’re doing and the course and not all the exterior things.
Handling losing in competition:
ME: I’m not great at that. I do tend to go over things in my head a little too much. I really beat myself up over and over. [But] I try to look at it in a positive way and you learn a lot more from your mistakes than you do from what you do correctly. So I try and think over what I did wrong and try and correct it for the next time. It’s not a positive thing to keep going over too much the negative aspects.
Learning from watching others:
ME: I learned a lot from the sidelines. When I was a kid, I used to beg my friends, ‘I’ll groom for you if I can go to the shows.’ When I went to the big shows, when they weren’t showing and I didn’t have to help them, I was watching and studying from the sidelines what people were doing in the schooling areas and watching them at the horse shows. I think you can gain a lot of experience by watching.
Learning from horses:
ME: The best teachers I’ve had are the horses themselves because if you listen to them, they’ll teach you a lot. They let you know when you’re doing things correctly and they let you know when you’re not. As long as you’re listening, they’re there to be probably one of your biggest instructors.
Discussing flatwork and how Olympic dressage rider Lisa Wilcox works Engle’s horses on the flat:
ME: The flatwork has always been important. … You want the horses to ride correctly in between the jumps. You have to be able to open and close their strides. They’ve got to be adjustable to get there correctly and at the proper balance. Lisa’s work with the horses on the flat is amazing. She really gets them cantering and carrying themselves from their hind ends and that’s where their power comes from when they jump. You’ve got to have them active and you have to have that spring behind loaded so the horses jump easier. It gives you a lot more options from what distances you can jump from. So if they’re carrying themselves better and their balance is good and they’ve got that suspension, then they give you lot better jumps. You’ve got way more options than when you’re cantering around on a horse who’s on his forehand or off balance.
About Margie Goldstein Engle
To date, Margie has won more than 200 grand-prix classes, six World Cup qualifiers, more than 20 Nations Cup classes and a record 10 American Grandprix Association Rider of the Year titles. Engle competed in the 2000 Olympics, won team silver at the 1999 Pan American Games, team gold and individual bronze at the 2003 Pan Am Games and team silver at the 2006 World Equestrian Games.
More recently, she and the Oldenburg stallion Royce have been in the winner’s circle numerous times. In 2018, they won the $500,000 Rolex CSI5* and Royce was named the 2018 U.S. Equestrian Federation Grand Prix Horse of the Year. They kicked off 2019 finishing second in the Longines Grand Prix of the Palm Beach Masters CSI5*.
About the Practical Horseman Podcast
The Practical Horseman podcast, which runs every other Friday, features conversations with respected riders, industry leaders and horse-care experts to inform, educate and inspire. It is co-hosted by Practical Horseman editors Sandra Oliynyk, Emily Daily and Jocelyn Pierce. The next podcast will be with show jumping Olympian Anne Kursinski, and future episodes feature Olympians Jim Wofford and William Fox-Pitt and USHJA International Hunter Derby winner Liza Boyd.