The first featured equestrian performers in the history of the Olympic Games, the Foxfield Equestrian Team has been thrilling audiences for more than thirty years.
Sixteen young riders gallop their horses through an elaborate drill routine that includes jumps, pirouettes, and more — all without the aid of saddles, stirrups, bits or bridles.
Riding bareback, each team member guides her horse using only her natural aids — weight, legs, and voice — and a delicate band of wire looped around the base of her horse’s neck. In addition to a rousing drill team performance, several of the riders offer individual routines in which they demonstrate Olympic-level dressage movements, soar over grand-prix-sized fences, even jump standing up.
The riders, aged six to eighteen, train their own horses “to the wire.”
Those horses run the gamut from tiny Sicilian donkeys to Thoroughbreds to Warmbloods to crossbred ponies. Their riders are some of Foxfield’s most accomplished, but it takes more than pure ability to win a spot on the team.
Riders must demonstrate an affinity for teamwork, an ability to accept criticism, and good academic standing in school. Membership on the team also takes a commitment to hard work; not only must the riders practice, perform, and train their own horses, they must care for them, too, since there are no grooms at Foxfield. As a result, team members develop a great sense of camaraderie, friendship, and sportsmanship.
Internationally renowned, the Equestrian Team has been profiled by television shows and magazines from as far away as Japan.
In 1984, after auditioning for Prince Phillip, who made a special trip from Britain to see them, the team became the first featured equestrian act in Olympic history when it performed at the Los Angeles games.
The Drill Team has appeared throughout the nation, at such prestigious horse shows as the Cow Palace Grand National Exhibition in San Francisco, the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania, and the National Horse Show Washington, D.C. and the International Horse Show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
The team was also featured at the prestigious Belmont Triple Crown Stakes; it led the famous Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA; it appeared at the Volvo World Cup in Del Mar, CA; and it performed at Equitana USA in Louisville, KY.