March 17, 2004 -- "I have every intention of riding in the Trials," said 2000 Sydney Olympic veteran and eight-time American Grandprix Association (AGA) Rider of the Year Margie Goldstein Engle. "The doctors may not agree, but I don't intend to miss the Trials and a chance at the Olympic Games just because of a broken leg!"
Virtually every top show jumper in the United States has spent the early part of 2004 targeting the show jumping Selection Trials, scheduled for the weekends of May 14-16 and 20-23 at Del Mar and San Juan Capistrano, CA, the final weekend of which will also feature the Cargill International CSI**** and the $175,000 Cargill Grand Prix of the United States. Engle, with her Sydney mount Hidden Creek's Perin, entered the year as one of the favorites to make the four-rider squad for Athens, but everything changed when she broke her leg in a fall while competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, on Friday the 13th of February.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if it had just been a straight break," Engle said in describing her injury of a cracked femur bone at the socket where it connects to the hip in her left leg. "The problem is that the femur bone separated from the socket and until it is back in place, I really can't do anything with the leg."
Engle had surgery to put in a plate designed to help bring the bone back into its proper position in the socket. Doctors gave her a timetable of three to four months before she would be able to start riding, a timetable that would leave her completely out of the Trials.
"I intend to listen to what the doctors tell me, but maybe at a different pace," she said. "I guess you could say that they have their timetable and I have mine. We wait four years for a chance at the Olympics and I fully intend to be at the Trials. After just a few weeks the doctors were already telling me that I was doing things that they'd never seen before."
This, of course, is something not surprising to anyone familiar with show jumping's all-time leading winner. Engle has a history of bouncing back from injuries, a history that has seen her ride even the next day after such injuries as a broken wrist, broken ribs or a fall that led to more than 50 stitches on her face. Given that long history, Engle can't imagine letting a broken leg keep her from a shot at a second consecutive Olympic Games.
"Perin is one of the best horses in the world," she said of her two-time Horse of the Year on whom she also won team Gold and individual Bronze Medals at last year's Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. "He is such a consistent jumper that I think he'd be a big help in our bid for the team Gold Medal. I can't imagine letting my injury deny him the chance to be there."
Each year, the Cargill International CSI**** features some of the world's best show jumping horses and riders. Several of the world's top Grand Prix riders are expected to be on hand this year to compete at the fourth annual Cargill International CSI****, which was the country's first outdoor CSI (international individual show jumping competition). The 2004 event will take place May 20-23.
General admission tickets for the Cargill International CSI**** and the first three selection trials at Del Mar are available through Ticketmaster. VIP ticket packages for the Cargill International CSI**** are also available and include reserved ringside seating under the Hospitality Tent, a Friday reception, a Saturday luncheon and Sunday brunch, in addition to preferred parking. For general information, please visit www.obeshows.com.