About Gina Miles
Gina Miles began riding at the age of 7 in Davis, California at Happy Horse Riding School. Owning her first pony three years later allowed Gina to ride more frequently and begin competing in local schooling shows. A trip to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles confirmed in Gina’s mind that Three-Day eventing was the direction that her riding would take. At the age of 14, Gina found Sir D’Artagnan, a 7-year-old Arabian gelding, and became a member of Hobby Horse Pony Club. Together with Dar, she achieved her “B” rating, participated in USPC championships in both Dressage and Show jumping and evented at the Training level. Patches, a 10-year-old Appaloosa/Thoroughbred cross was Gina’s next mount and together they again tackled Training level courses throughout California as well as joined the U.C. Davis Equestrian Team. Gina also got her start in teaching during these years, becoming Panache Pony Club’s regular Saturday instructor.
Following High School Graduation in 1991, Gina became a working student for David Adamo in Petaluma, California and earned her H-A rating in Pony Club. With Southbound, an 8-year-old Appaloosa/Thoroughbred gelding, she again competed at the USPC Championships, this time in Combined Training. In the next two years, with the help of Brian and Lisa Sabo, Gina and Southbound successfully moved up to the Intermediate level, never incurring a cross country penalty. In 1993 they landed a spot on the Area VI team for the North American Young Riders Championships where they placed 6th individually. Gina also gained experience riding a variety of different mounts, earned her “A” rating, and obtained her B.S. in Crop Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
In 1997, Gina attended the inaugural Four Star event at Rolex Kentucky as a spectator and firmly set her sights on reaching the four star level. Upon learning of these aspirations, friends and owners of Rainbow Ranch, Thom Schulz and Laura Coats, imported McKinlaigh, a five-year-old Irish Sport Horse. The unlikely partnership of the 17.2 hand gelding and the 5’3” rider began a winning streak that led them to victories at the Area VI training championships, the Western DeBroke Championships, the Area VI Intermediate Championships and numerous other competitions on the West Coast. The pair reached the three star level in 2001 at the Fair Hill Three Day event where they earned the Amanda Warrington award for the highest placed pair competing in their first three star. Success in 2001 earned McKinlaigh a spot on the United States Equestrian Team’s Winter Training List for training with US coach Captain Mark Phillips.
The start of 2002 found Gina packing her two horses, her 3-year-old son and her sister for a trip to the East Coast. The trip provided the opportunity to train with three-time Olympian and Canadian team coach, Jim Wofford of Upperville, Virginia. Gina made a good showing against seasoned Olympians in competitions along the East Coast, culminating in an eleventh place finish at the Rolex Kentucky four star. Gina and McKinlaigh were then selected to train for the U.S. team in England and sent to the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain as an individual. McKinlaigh, only 8 years old, put in his best dressage test to date, jumped clean cross country, and was one of only eight horses to put in a clean show jumping round.
McKinlaigh started out 2003 with a bang, winning the World Cup qualifier at Galway Downs and scoring another good finish at Rolex, this time finishing inside the time on cross-country. Gina opted to spend the fall season competing in Europe, focusing on intensive Dressage work with Sandy Phillips and Hubertus Schmidt of Germany and gaining valuable experience in International competition with a 3rd place finish at Gatcombe, 2nd at Varsseveld and an individual Bronze medal at the World Cup Final in Pau, France. Gina is now aiming for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens when McKinlaigh will be the prime age of 10.
McKinlaigh (Highland King out of Kilcumney Hostess) aptly dubbed “Big Mac” by Jim Wofford, stands 17.2 hands tall. He is a striking liver chestnut and has a sweet, shy personality. He is slow to take a liking to new people, yet can usually be won over by a handful of peppermints. He is terribly afraid of clippers and needles but has not yet found a cross-country fence that gives him any concern.
Born in 1994 in Ireland, McKinlaigh was started by Chris and Sue Ryan of Scarteen. Imported to the United States by Thom Schulz and Laura Coats in 1999, McKinlaigh began his career with Gina Miles winning 9 out of 10 events in his first two years in the U.S. He quickly progressed to the Intermediate and Advanced levels, completing his first CCI three star in 2001 at just 7 years old. In 2002, McKinlaigh successfully negotiated his first four star track at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event and represented the U.S. at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. 2003 was off to a great start with a win at the World Cup qualifier at Galway Downs and another successful trip around Rolex.
The fall season brought McKinlaigh “across the pond” to test his mettle against the more formidable European competitors. He met the challenge with aplomb, placing 3rd at Gatcombe Park, 2nd at Varsseveld and earning a Bronze medal at the inaugural Eventing World Cup Final held in Pau, France.