By Rebecca Walton
Everybody dreams of being their hometown hero and for one hardworking woman in South Florida that dream came true. Margie Engle makes her home in Wellington after growing up in Miami and riding all her life. She started at the bottom, working around the barn for lessons; but eventually went on to represent the United States internationally at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, World Cup Finals and World Equestrian Games. She is a 10 time American Grand Prix Rider of the Year and in 2012 she added another title to her ever-expanding list.
In front of a sold-out crowd of fellow South Floridians, 54-year-old Margie captured the Co-National Championship title alongside Reed Kessler during the weeklong United States National Championships. Following five days of grueling tests and Olympic-caliber courses, Margie and her talented mount Indigo topped the country’s best horse and rider combinations.
Catch Margie on Sidelines TV – watch her interview here:
“We hadn’t had a National Championship in a long time and it was kind of exciting to have it here in Wellington,” noted Margie. “Indigo is owned by a group of people, so it was nice for them to be able to see him go. I was really happy with how he jumped. I thought it was very demanding and very big courses. A couple of the nights were as big as anything I’ve done even internationally like Aachen and the Olympics, WEG, they were very large courses.”
A setback last year stopped Margie’s banner year in its tracks though when she broke her ankle and fibula on her right leg while schooling a catch ride. “Indigo ended up getting most of the year off because I had hurt my ankle on another horse,” she explained. “I missed half the year being out with the injury. I damaged the bones and the soft tissue in my ankle. I really missed being away from it. I was able to go to the shows and help my students, but that’s probably the longest period of time I’ve not ridden in over 30 years.”
Every rider falls off at some point during his or her career and Margie is no stranger to serious falls, including breaking her hip in 2004. “I’ve had other serious injuries, I’ve just never had any that have kept me out this long,” she commented. “I’ve had a lot more serious injuries; but the recovery was faster.”
Margie continued, “It’s difficult because you have to try and stay in shape. I did a lot of physical therapy. I was able to do a lot of the training an teaching at the barn. That kept me involved with the horses. It’s frustrating to not be able to ride and get on the horses for any length of time though when you are used to being active and riding all the time. It’s hard to sit out and just watch.”
For some riders, it can be difficult to get back in the saddle after a serious accident; but Margie’s passion for riding was her only focus during her time away. “I was just trying to get physically fit enough to get back on,” she admitted. “Maybe I don’t have enough sense to be timid and worry about getting back on; but I really don’t think about it that much.” “
“I should probably have a little more sense of self preservation,” laughed Margie. “Probably people with more common sense would be more worried about the injury aspect; but for me it’s more that I am thinking about getting physically fit and strong enough to ride again.”
Margie’s hard work certainly paid off when she made her return to the ring at the end of 2012. She placed fifth with Indigo in the $85,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show after producing a double clear effort in October and then went on to place third in the $50,000 Holiday & Horses FEI World Cup Qualifier with Royce in Wellington.
“It’s great to be back,” smiled Margie. “I really missed being away from it, so it’s nice to be back riding again and making a plan for the year ahead.”
Margie has some great sponsors, including EquiFit, inc, SmartPak and Back on Track. Thanks to her sponsors for keeping her competing at the top: