From Pony Club in the Adelaide Hills to representing Australia as a 21-year-old at the World Eventing Championships at Gawler in South Australia, Scott Keach made his mark early in his career, even making the eventing team that placed fifth at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
He then took a long break from top competition in the 1990s while he went to university, and spent a lot of time surfing. After moving to America, he broke into the Australian show jumping team for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. There were 28 years between Olympics. What a remarkable career. And it’s not over yet. Scott is based in Ocala, Florida, where he has a team of horses including Australian owned and bred Wild Thing, out of Seamus Marwood’s top eventer Wild Oats. He also has loyal American owners.
I caught up with Scott at EQUITANA, where he was giving the jumping masterclass with his teammate James Paterson-Robinson. I ask him about his path to the top in show jumping. “It has just happened by luck,” he says. In 2007 there was an outbreak of equine flu in Australia. The whole industry ground to a halt. Scott had luckily already gone to America to sell an eventer. The sale was a success and the horse competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing, 2008.
As nothing was happening in Australia, he stayed in America and moved to Florida in 2008 to coach a young girl. They bought a seven-year-old gelding jumping 1.20m. This talented horse thrived with Scott, competing in the show jumping Grand Prix by eight years old. This was Fedor, Scott’s partner for Rio. This was a wonderful journey for horse, rider and the owners, who have since invested in other horses.
SECRET TO LONGEVITY
What is Scott’s secret for longevity in the sport? “Finding good horses and the means to keep them,” he says. “Horses are getting more and more valuable, so they are harder to keep. There are so many good horses and good riders now.” Scott doesn’t have a fancy philosophy about choosing horses, and he doesn’t have favourite bloodlines: “I just like horses that are good jumpers, that just don’t want to touch a rail.” Scott has had success buying horses already started and jumping about 1.20m and jumping clear rounds at that level, and then taking them further. Owners are important.