Trainer John Madden of John Madden Sales (also known as the husband of Beezie Madden!) is known for picking some of the best equine athletes. He has given clinics, lectures and webinars on how to determine a horse’s strengths and weaknesses by their conformation, but he will also tell you that sometimes you need to look past things to see the greatness in a horse. Cortes ‘C’, a 2002 Belgian Warmblood gelding sired by Randel Z, out of Orchidee Van De Tombeele, has a jumping style that is by no means “classic.” He actually crosses his front legs as he jumps in the air!
Cortes had just started competing at the grand prix level when Abigail Wexner purchased him for Beezie to ride in early 2011. Beezie began to build a relationship with the huge black gelding they nicknamed “Tiny.” Little by little, the pair figured each other out. Beezie discovered that Cortes likes grass better than sand footing, and he likes to be left alone as much as possible, going relaxed and less collected. She even loosened his noseband so he could go with his mouth open a little. He was very scopey and has a great athletic ability, and finding out what worked to bring out the best in Cortes allowed him to show off that scope and speed.
One of the best demonstrations of his ability happened in Caen, Normandy, during the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. It was there that Cortes jumped nine rounds in five days and only pulled a single rail to earn both a Team Bronze medal and an Individual Bronze medal for Beezie. In addition, Cortes earned the title of Best Horse at the World Equestrian Games after jumping clear rounds with all four riders in the final. That year he was also named the USEF International Horse of the Year.
Also in 2014, Beezie rode Cortes to become the first woman to win the €200,000 Longines King George V Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show in Hickstead, England. Beezie and Cortes returned in 2015 to win it again, becoming the first back-to-back winner of the class since 1962.
Beezie headed to her fourth Olympic Games at Rio 2016, riding the scopey, cross-legged horse she had faith in five years ago at the very start of his career. Unfortunately, Cortes had to be withdrawn from the competition after sustaining an injury, but Beezie’s teammates rallied and the USA show jumpers claimed the Silver Team medal.
Cortes joined the ranks of countless iconic horses when he was inducted into the USEF Horse Stars Hall of Fame in 2015. His storied career was closed out in 2017 when he was officially retired from competition, and today he is living out his golden years at the Maddens' New York facility.
Breyer's model of Cortes 'C' was produced from 2016 to 2017.