At just 5’1″, Margie Goldstein-Engle stands head and shoulders above her peers in the equestrian world. She is a top show jumper with superstar status. Her extensive list of achievements and longevity in the sport make her one of the best the world has ever seen (see “Career Highlights” at the end of this article).
Like many young riders, Margie grew up as a barn rat, soaking up every moment with horses she could. She knew there was no hurdle too high for her when achieving her dreams, so long as she persevered. In fact, No Hurdle Too High is the title of Margie’s memoir, which was written by her mother in 2005. She is a true inspiration for many riders and a remarkable horsewoman.
Margie grew up in Miami, Fla., and began riding lessons when she was around 8 years old. She had to plead with her parents to start lessons because her parents felt horseback riding was too dangerous. Regardless of how they felt, she convinced her parents to let her ride, and she hasn’t stopped since.
Both of her parents worked full time, so Margie got to the farm by any means necessary. Because she wanted to ride frequently, she would go to the barn in the mornings to complete chores and was back in the afternoons after school.
Nothing stopped her from working at the stable, Gladewinds Farm, as much as possible in exchange for frequent lessons. Her dedication to riding and learning created a unique bond between Margie and the farm’s owners and trainers, Robert and Dorothy Kramer, as well as their three daughters.
“The Kramers were amazing teachers and allowed me many opportunities,” Margie says. “They became like my second parents, and I couldn’t have been blessed with anything better than to learn to ride from them. I have some of my greatest memories at the farm with my friends. We would have sleepovers at the farm, and we would camp out in the hay bales all the time. We loved every minute of it.”
The Kramers also helped provide Margie with top instructors at the farm. “They were like family to many of us growing up, and to this day, most of us barn rats are still very close,” she says.
Riding in jumper competitions was young Margie’s dream. She loved soaring over big jumps and was a daredevil from a young age.
“My friends would dare me to jump as high as I could,” she says. “They would raise the fences higher and higher for me after each time I jumped. I loved jumping big at a young age, and I still love it to this day!”
As Margie’s riding skills developed, she began showing the Kramers’ ponies and the junior jumpers they campaigned for sale. Opportunities to ride various horses taught Margie how to become an effective rider. The hands-on experience helped her become the great horsewoman she is.
“I loved learning everything I could,” she says. “Campaigning the horses included early mornings and late nights, but it was worth it, of course. I think young riders need to understand how important it is to be educated about horses in all aspects—not only riding. The way our sport has evolved, many riders now only climb aboard, ride, and afterward hand the reins off to a groom. Still, a work ethic and a lot of perseverance are essential.”
The Best Teachers
Margie’s advice for young riders includes an awareness that the sport has many ups and downs—because horses are the best teachers.
Secondly, riders should try to climb aboard as many horses as possible and never let challenges stop you from accomplishing your goals.
Margie shares how riding difficult horses played a positive role in her life because the tougher horses made her a well-rounded and effective rider.
“The nicer horses made me appreciate them tremendously,” she says. “I also realized how much I learned from riding the harder horses; riding difficult horses played in my favor. Regardless, the horse is the best teacher. There is no phoniness, and in the beginning, riders can’t be picky on which horse they ride. Riding is trial and error, too; everything is a learning experience. You should appreciate those experiences, because there is a lot of missed learning if you only focus on showing.”
Hobbies and Family
Margie’s favorite activities outside of horses and riding include listening to ‘60s music, such as The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.
“Music and instruments were always playing, because my mother played the piano—she is a classically trained pianist,” Margie says.
She followed in her mother’s musical footsteps by playing the clarinet when she was younger, which she loved. She also played football, baseball and tennis with her older brothers growing up.
Margie maintains a strong support system that cheers her on, including her brothers and two sisters-in-law plus their children. They go to many of her horse shows even though they weren’t into riding themselves growing up.
Her husband Steve, a large-animal veterinarian, is super supportive as well.
“He helps with my horses, and I’m so lucky he helps with that!
“I talk to everyone all the time,” she adds. “I travel so much, and my family keeps me grounded. I am blessed to have them around. I love them all so much.”
Margie is an excellent example of an icon whose hard work, determination, people skills, and perseverance made her dreams come true. She shows young riders that there’s no hurdle too high for anyone!
Career Highlights of Margie Goldstein-Engle
◆ 2021: Inducted into U.S. Show Jumping Hall of Fame
◆ 10-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year
◆ Gold Medalist: 2003 Pan American Games, team jumping
◆ Silver Medalist: 2006 World Equestrian Games, team jumping
◆ Silver Medalist: 1999 Pan American Games, team jumping
◆ Bronze Medalist: 2003 Pan American Games, individual jumping
◆ 2000: Competed for the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney, Australia
◆ 1999: American Horse Shows Association Rider of the Year
◆ 1987: World record high jump of 7 feet, 8 ¾ inches (2.356 meters)
◆ More than 220 Grand Prix victories