Margaret Elizabeth McIver, Australia’s first Olympic dressage rider, passed away on 21 July 2020. She was 86 years old. Born Margaret Elizabeth Young on the 7th August 1933.
“This morning we lost a special mother, grandmother, friend, coach, supporter, trail blazer, and our sassy matriarch, our Margie,” the family posted on social media. “She passed quickly, peacefully and surrounded by love.”
Margaret was a living treasure in the horse world, helping many and imparting her knowledge and experience to those wanting to learn, until 2017 when her health started to decline.
Mciver lived in Ballarat and was married to the late Ken McIver. She was involved in dressage, show jumping and eventing.
Her first show was on Houri at the Waubra Gymkhana in 1948, when she was 15 years old.
Margaret first competed in show jumping and eventing before switched to dressage. She was a regular face at Melbourne Royal, especially with her show jumper Bonanza for many years. She combined this with competing in the highest class in three-day-eventing, her most famous ride being Pyewacket. At that time eventing included miles of roads and tracks, steeplechase and frighteningly tall fences. She placed second in the Open at Melbourne with Pyewacket in the 1970s. These courses were only for the bravest riders.
She became a monument for Australian dressage sport as the first dressage rider to compete for her country at the Olympic Games. In a bid to qualify for the Olympics, Margaret, who was largely self-taught, travelled to Europe in the early 1980s leaving her husband Ken and children for six months.
Aboard the Thoroughbred CK, she rode at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and placed 42nd. Her horse was named after the owner and breeder, Colin Kelly, who in 1949 won the first dressage event held in Victoria. He was also the president of the Australian equestrian federation at the time.
In May 2007 McIver was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Ballarat in recognition of her contribution to dressage in Australia as an Olympic competitor, and dressage coach and judge.
She is an honorary life member of Equestrian Australia. Margaret was Cremated at the Ballarat New Cemetery and her ashes collected.