- By Norman Fine
Olympic medal-winner Karen Stives died peacefully at her home in Dover, Massachusetts on August 14, 2015 after a five-year battle with cancer. She was sixty-four. Karen was a member of the Norfolk Hunt Club but her great passion was competition, and there she made history.
Karen showed hunters and jumpers successfully through the 1970s and then became smitten with eventing and dressage. She was the first woman to win an Individual Medal in an Olympic Three-Day Event, winning the individual Silver Medal in the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles on her gray Irish-bred Ben Arthur. In doing so, she anchored the U.S. team in capturing the Team Gold Medal in the Three-Day Event that year. In 1982 she had represented the U.S. in the World Championship Three-Day Event at Luhmuhlen aboard her Thoroughbred horse, The Saint. She was the USEA Rider of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988.
In her induction into the USEA Hall of Fame, Karen is described as a “New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work, and plenty of natural ability, and is called a ‘small package with a thousand-pound brain,’ by longtime friend and colleague, Jim Wolf. At one time she contemplated trying out for both the U.S. eventing and dressage teams in the same year—an idea she discarded after riding in two separate selection trials in the same weekend!”