John Williams began his riding career with the Mendon Pony Club in the 1970s, participating on the games team and competing at both the national and international level. He completed his first long-format 3-day event in 1983 at the Radnor Hunt HT.
He was selected to ride for the USET Eventing Team THREE times, competed at the Pan American Championships in 1991, the World Championship Games in 2002, and the Olympics in 2004. Unfortunately, the last Olympics that did roads and tracks and steeplechase was in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. John did not compete at these Olympics, but he did get to compete at the Sydney Test Event in 1999.
Until the long-format went out of existence, John completed approximately 70 of these events on over 15 different horses. This includes riding at the Kentucky 3-Day event, formerly known as Rolex, over 10 times on five different horses, and riding four times at the Burghley 3-Day Event on two different horses.
John has been a FEI cross country course designer for 21 years. He has been the course designer for the Pan American Games, the Central American Games, and the Central American and Caribbean Games. He is now a FEI TD as well, and he is currently the Chef d’Equipe for the Colombian National Eventing Team.
What was your initial response when asked to serve as Lead Clinician for the Classic?
JW: Yes, I love the brewery at Waredaca! (Kidding). My initial thought was that its great that someone is still hosting real 3-day events up through the Preliminary level.
What made you say yes?
JW: I disagreed with the FEI’s decision to abolish 3-day eventing in the long-format, and I am happy to help promote the continuation of long-format events at any level possible.
What’s the best advice you’ve received as a rider?
JW: About noon in Jerez, Spain at the World Championships, I was having a beer and Capt. Mark Philips walked by and asked, “When do you get on to do dressage?” I answered “Oh, in about 20 minutes”, and he responded “Good, have another!”
[In non-alcohol related news]·I worked with Jimmy Wofford off and on over the years. Some of the best advice I took away from him was that every trainer can offer something useful to you. Don’t limit yourself as a rider, and be willing to take advice and criticism from a variety of people.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
JW: Many years ago, when we had to carry a minimum of 165 pounds on cross country, I would antagonize my fellow competitors in the weeks leading up to the event by going to dinner with them and eating big steaks and drinking lots of beer, while they were eating salads and drinking water to keep their weight down.
This year, we’ll be hosting three-day riders from novice to preliminary. What do you think the riders at the different levels can gain from the long-format experience?
JW: Every competition a rider does they should learn something about their horse. In particular, a long-format event offers the opportunity to discover how adequate the fitness training of a horse is, and what changes need to be implemented going forward. The planning and preparation is more thorough, and the end result is usually that better horsemen and horsewomen have been created.
In one word, how would you describe the feeling of completing a 3-day event?
JW: ‘Exhilarating’ while competing, and ‘satisfying’ once it’s finished.
ABOUT THE CLASSIC, OCTOBER 24-28, 2018
The Waredaca Classic Three Day is truly an experience. It’ll leave you with goosebumps on your arms, sweat running down your body and elation in your heart. It will push you to your limits, at times scare the bejeezus out of you, but at the end of the three days, it’ll leave you and your horse bonded in a way you haven’t felt before.
The Classic is a formative experience for young riders, amateurs and professionals alike. Now led by John, Waredaca Classic competitors are treated to three days filled with instruction, insight and inspiration. John, with the help of an experienced team of dressage judges, event organizers, technical delegates, vets and more walk riders through every piece of the long format. We’re talking dressage test demos, cross country and show jumping course walks, mini steeplechase clinics, Q&As with vets, top riders and more!
There’s a lot of talk about the value of the long format event…about how “back in the day,” that–that was real eventing; when cross country/endurance day was at the heart of the sport; when riders had to practice a different kind of horsemanship. Ask anyone who’s contested the Classic and they’ll tell you there’s truth to these claims. No event, championship or otherwise, can come close to the experience of completing a long format event.
This year, the Classic is open to Novice, Training AND Preliminary competitors!
The Waredaca Classic Three Day can be your Olympics.