As a coach and horseman, Mark Watring brings a remarkable breadth of experience to clients at his hunter/jumper training program in the Los Angeles area’s Hidden Valley. His dossier is dotted with Olympics, Pan American Games and eight international championship medals, along with World Cup Finals and many other international competitions. And he’s far from done as a contender himself, giving his students an ever-fresh and relevant take on tackling riding, horsemanship and horse care questions in every form.
At the international level, Mark took an unconventional course. He started out as an eventer representing the United States. He was based in England for three years, a stretch that concluded in 1982 with being the top-placed American rider at the Burghley Horse Trials and earning a reserve team spot at the Eventing World Championships at Luhmühlen, Germany.
On returning to the States, Mark worked under renowned eventer Bruce Davidson. When a horse injury mid-way through the U.S. selection trials derailed his hopes to represent the States in the 1984 Olympics, Mark reached out to his birth locale, Puerto Rico, and earned the chance to represent them that year. He has ridden for the U.S. Territory ever since.
In 2003, Mark and his most famous mount, Sapphire, helped Puerto Rico win show jumping gold at the Pan American Games, then represented them well as individuals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In addition to his competitive accomplishments, Mark is well known as one of the first to clone a superstar horse. In this case, it was Sapphire, whose clone, Saphir, is 9 and coming along nicely toward the upper divisions. A troop of science camp kids came to visit the handsome grey stallion recently and Mark enjoyed their excitement over meeting and interacting with a real live cloned horse. “To us, at this point, he’s a regular horse.”
Except for being slightly smaller in stature than his famous clone, Saphir is a convincing example of the technology’s ability to reproduce the appearance, athletic ability and temperament of the source horse. So much so that colleagues often comment when Mark and Saphir exit the ring: “I know that canter. That’s Sapphire’s clone, right?”