Putting Down Roots: Abigail McArdle and Samuel Parot, Jr. Make Wellington Their Year Round Residence
Abigail McArdle and Samuel Parot, Jr. Photo by Cathrin Cammett
For international show jumpers Abigail McArdle (USA) and Samuel Parot, Jr (CHI), the road to partnership has spanned more than 4,000 miles.
Both were competing in Nations Cup competition in Lisbon (POR) when they first met in 2014. At the time, Parot, Jr. was working in Spain, while McArdle was based in the U.S. Nearly a decade later, the two work in complement at their SA Equestrian, with the nearest horse show within walking distance.
For the first time, SA Equestrian will base year round out of Wellington, FL this year, a move made to serve the growing number of show jumping athletes extending their formerly seasonal stays in the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World. Even while traveling to other shows in the Southeast and Central America, McArdle and Parot, Jr. have committed to always having at least one trainer in Wellington, filling what they have identified as a void when it comes to top show jumping stables in the area.
"I think a lot of people are, post-pandemic, either working remotely or want to live [in Florida]," McArdle said. "The show circuit is so big now, you don't have to leave the area."
Wellington International, home of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), hosts competitions 11 months out of the year and now has international events in both the winter and spring seasons. Within four hours of this epicenter are a host of other quality venues, from the World Equestrian Center - Ocala to the Terranova Equestrian Center (Sarasota, FL) and Fox Lea Farm in Venice, FL.
"I have spent nine years wintering in Florida, and every year we start to see the show season get a bit longer, and a bit longer," Parot, Jr. said. "The idea was just to establish more of a solid base instead of moving around a lot and taking advantage of all of the horse show options around here now."
"We'll have opportunities to travel a bit farther for riders wanting to do so, but at the same time, we can have a solid base here," McArdle added.
McArdle and Parot, Jr. coach ringside. Photo by Cathrin Cammett
Complementary Styles, Shared Passion
McArdle and Parot, Jr. were trained in vastly different systems, which has come to be a strength of their business.
Parot, Jr. hails from Chile and developed much of his riding in Argentina on homebreds from his grandfather and father, Olympic veteran Samuel Parot, Sr. Parot, Jr. went on to work in Spain before taking a job in the United States with Alison Firestone. McArdle was brought up fully in the American system and rode, trained and managed for Katie and Henri Prudent at Plain Bay Farm.
"In America, everything is more square and has to be a certain way, where in South America, things are a bit looser. I think we complement each other in that way," Parot, Jr. said. "Abbie can give that structure and can provide an equitation base for a rider, and I can be a little bit looser and provide an additional perspective. I really enjoy the process as much as the result."
It was in Upperville, VA that Parot, Jr. and McArdle reconnected more than a year after their first meeting in Lisbon. Both riders spent nearly 10 years in their respective jobs before going out on their own and then joining forces in 2021.
"We worked side by side for a lot of years, and it's been two years now that we've been working together in our business," McArdle said. "We pull from really different backgrounds, but it means we can suit any kind of horse and work in the way that best suits each student."
Abigail McArdle (left) and Samuel Parot, Jr. (right) competing under the lights in Wellington, FL. Photos Courtesy Abigail McArdle and Samuel Parot, Jr.
They can also draw from their own experiences pursuing top level sport in the saddle: Combined, McArdle and Parot, Jr. boast 41 international victories. McArdle recently debuted the talented 9-year-old Olympia van het Eikenhof at 1.60m in Wellington's springtime CSI3* Grand Prix, while Parot, Jr. acquired an exciting new mount of his own in Versace, an 11-year-old gelding with experience up to 1.50m. His goal is to make Chile's team for the upcoming Pan American Games this fall.
"We're lucky that we share the same passion, the same goals, that have allowed us to work together and complement each other," Parot, Jr. said.
SA Equestrian exclusively trains for the show jumping arena, working with competitive riders at all levels. They place their focus on maximizing the potential of every horse and rider that enters their program.
"I think we honestly love teaching. It's so much fun to develop horses and riders," McArdle said. "It really is fun for us. It's not just work."
Learn more about SA Equestrian here.