Kyle Carter and Madison Park are among eventing’s most beloved old married couples. Over the course of the past decade, they’ve ticked box after box: a top five finish at the 2007 Pan Am Games, anchor cross country trips at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, and nine starts at the CCI4* level. In 2016, at age 18, “Parker” cruised around his fourth Rolex Kentucky start.
What was next for the war horse? Kyle had been batting around the idea of an encore performance at the Kentucky Horse Park or a trip to Badminton. As recently as earlier this year, when the pair finished 16th in the Advanced at Rocking Horse Winter II, nothing seemed off the table.
Yesterday evening, however, Kyle delivered a “state of the union” address via YouTube video announcing Parker’s retirement–from the multi-starred levels of eventing, at least:
“We have been getting asked a lot of Parker’s plans this spring and probably should have announced it sooner. We’ve decided to retire him from top level competition. Thank you to his many fans, our great sponsors, my family and of course most of all to Parker–you’ve changed my life. Looking forward to growing old together, it’s all sailboats and margaritas from now on!!”
On behalf of EN, here’s wishing Parker all the best! We look forward to watching him romp around the lower levels, or romp around pastures, or however else he wishes to enjoy his golden years. You do do, Parker.
Relationships as long and storied as that of Kyle and Parker are an inspiration to us all. And what a class-act horseman Kyle is for granting his partner the dignity of a happy, well-timed and well-deserved (semi!)retirement.
Since the announcement Kyle’s teammates, fellow eventers and many fans have been paying to tribute to Parker’s remarkable career on social media. Here are a few of their praises, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg! Stop by to leave a kind word for Kyle and Parker here.
“WEG 2010 team mates Kyle and Parker have reached the end of an era! It was an honor to be on a team with Kyle and Parker, and to see first hand the meticulous horsemen the Carters are.” –Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch
“Congrats Parker and Kyle Carter for many amazing years!!! Love to see riders know when the time is right and know what’s best for the horse!!! Retiring sound and happy is pretty awesome.” –Hawley Bennett-Awad
“A legend. You’ve earned it Parker.” –Selena O’Hanlon
“Oh sure! Put the horses needs above your own competition goals … Well played. Well played.” –Chelan Kozak
“He could write a book … Kyle Carter wouldn’t want us to read it. It would make Kyle seem soft. What a lovely and long lasting partnership. Love it! #doingrightbyhim” –Jill Henneberg
“This is great Kyle!! Congrats on such an amazing career for Parker and for his continued career here on out! Big thanks for everything you do in this sport!” –Alex Green
“Class act, what a war horse Parker is!” –Meghan O’Donoghue
“Good on you both!! He deserves to spend his days with you! Too risky to have something happen!!! What an iron horse he has been!!! Congrats!!!” –Liz Millikin
“Impressive. You, Jenn & team are amazing.” –Hilda Donahue
“Al and Parker have cigars and aged port coming!!!! Love these DUDES.” –Valerie Ashker
“Great plan. Best thing for the horse is always what is best.” –Ashley Giles
“It’s the easiest ‘hard’ decision ever huh? Well done man. Congrats Parker.” –Angela Bowles
“Happy Retirement P! We went to unbelievable places together! I was so blessed to be chosen to be part of your adventure, I have so many fond memories of spending time together and have a special spot in my heart for you.” –Jennifer Paige
“I feel privileged to have watched you both in person at 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2007 Rio Pan Ams. The definition of cross country machines” —Kerri McGregor
“Kyle, for pretending to be a hard assed meanie pants you really do have a soft spot for your horses. A true horse person always takes care of the horse that has taken care of them. So much respect for you and Parker! All the best Parker!” –Emery Reagan
“No one can ever question your dedication to your horses or love for the sport. Good thing you’re getting rid of him though, one bay was marring your string of chestnuts.” –Lauren Romanelli
“Lots of love to Parker and the whole Five Ring family. What a journey he has taken us all on. I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.” –-Pearl Macgregor
“What a special horse… and clearly a one of a kind relationship! So much respect. Congrats Parker!” –Laura Beaty Craven
“Congratulations Parker and the Carter family! Enjoy your ‘retirement’ Parker!” –Regan Albertson Howlette
“Such a classy move Kyle Carter. Parker is lucky you have his best interests at heart. Good luck in the future to you both.” –Clare Marie Pinney
“Such a hard choice to make but so good on you to make the right decision for his health! You guys are a great team and so happy to see how much you love him.” –Madi L. Hunter
“I’m glad he’s semi-retiring sound and happy, and still with you and the rest of Five Ring. But please post the video of when you tell him there’s no cross country the day after that dressage show..;)” –-Jess Eh Tee
“Congrats to Parker. Enjoy your retirement. As always, great horsemanship on choosing to go out on high with a happy horse. Love.” –Dana Lacy
“All class:) so much love and respect for those that put these amazing athletes first. To definitely be admired. Thanks for sharing your boy!” –Julie Foley
“Beautifully said Kyle. You have Always been a class act and it’s wonderful to see someone thinking of their horse’s best interest!” –-Andrea Malatestinic
“Thank you, from Parker’s many fans and admirers.” –Lynda Clary-Burke
Go Parker! Go Eventing.