"A Woman in a Man's World"
Equestrian events were first included in the second Olympic Games (Paris) in 1900. Women were excluded. In fact, up until World War II, Olympic equestrian events had been limited (almost exclusively) to cavalry officers on active duty. However, an increasing number of civilians participated in the 1948 Olympics - but women were still prohibited. The male establishment offered many excuses for its ban of women, citing that they were "too weak" to ride the longer Grand Prix jumping courses of the Olympics.
Soon after World War II, however, women began to compete (with acclaimed success) in major national equestrian events for the first time. Finality was Pat Smythe's first successful jumper and together they did so well at the London International Horse Show that they earned a place on the British Show Jumping team in 1947. Yet it wasn't until the middle of the 1950s that women were able to make a lasting impression on Olympic jumping competitions. Pat Smythe - and Brigitte Schockaert of Belgium - became pioneers, the first two women to ride in Olympic show jumping - at the 1956 (Stockholm) Games. In that same year, Pat Smythe was awarded an O.B.E. She was the most successful female show jumper in the world, winning more grand prix events than any other rider. In the modern era, at the British Grand Prix, the Pat Smythe Memorial Trophy is awarded to the winner.
Pat Smythe - the writer
During her lifetime, she wrote a number of successful equestrian and autobiographical books as well as many children's books. Her story was published in 1954 in her book, "Jump for Joy". At the turn of this century, her former home, Sudgrove House, at Miserden, Gloucestershire, went up for sale. The asking price was around £2.9 million. She bought the property - an eight-bedroom house overlooking gardens, woodland and pasture, with views of Througham Valley, in 1962. After her marriage to Sam Koechlin, she lived in Switzerland. She died as a result of heart disease in 1996, aged 67.
'With a style of writing that vividly laid open the emotions and trauma of a life with horses and show jumping, she shared with her readers the moments of glory and invited them to shed tears with her during the tragedies and disappointments. Owing to her strength of character, any bitterness was short lived as she focused on what the future could bring. Better than anybody, she portrayed a lifestyle of enduring effort, with the sweet promise of moments of golden immortality...'