We’re sad to announce that Frank Chapot died today at the age of 84. We utterly mourn the passing of such an integral legend to our sport, and send our condolences to his friends and family who surely will feel his absence enormously.
When you read through all that Frank Chapot accomplished in his lifetime, it seems he lived 1,000 lives. He made his first USET team at the age of 24, which at the time made him the youngest USET member in history.
He brought incredible talent and skill to the team, and played a competitor’s role in winning numerous world medals at the Pan American Games, the Olympics, the European Championships, and multiple nations cup teams.
He was part of the legendary team that won Team Silver at the 1960 Olympics in Rome alongside George Morris and Billy Steinkraus. Even more impressively, Frank won this medal aboard a 21-year-old cavalry horse named Trail Guide.
(You can see Frank jumping Diamont at the Dublin Horse Show in 1960 below, skip to 1:40.)
Frank would follow in his old teammate Billy Steinkraus’ footsteps in retiring from competitive riding to become the Chef d’Equipe of the USET, and he held this post for three decades before handing the reins over in 2004 to his other teammate, George Morris.
He couldn’t have asked for a more perfect sendoff, as that year he had taken an incredibly talented group of riders to the Sydney Olympics, where they had taken Team Gold for the first time since 1984. Even more impressively? He was coaching the team then, as well. Not many folks can or will ever say the bookends of their coaching career included two Olympic Gold Medals.
Frank was a great rider and trainer, and also a great eye for breeding and buying. Among his greatest accomplishments: Breeding and training Gem Twist, a legendary horse who won both Team and Individual Silver Medals at the Olympics in Seoul in 1988.
But perhaps most important of all was that Frank and his bride Mary Chapot – a hall of fame show jumper in her own right – established a family legacy and lifestyle among their whole family that has permeated the top level for generations. Frank and Mary’s daughter Laura Chapot is of course as quality a world class rider as you could ever ask for, and Frank’s eldest daughter Mary Nunn has been an amateur owner and competitor all her life.
The ripples of Frank Chapot will be moving through the show jumping pond for centuries to come, and we thank him and his family for a lifetime of service to our incredible sport.