Equitation — A Foundation for Life

At the USHJA Wheeler Museum October 22 through January 31

By Jennie Carleton

October 22, 2012

Lexington, KY — Heels down, thumbs up! It’s that time of year again. Equitation Finals are underway. To coincide with ‘Finals Season,’ the USHJA Wheeler Museum is excited to announce the opening of its latest exhibit, “Equitation- A Foundation for Life.” Some of the most famous names in the history of our sport can be found among the equitation champions featured. Memorabilia on display spans from as far back in time as the first USET Medal Final (now known as the USEF Talent Search Finals, East and West), right through to some of the most recent winners of the Talent Search Finals, the USEF Medal Final, and the ASPCA Maclay Final, also known as the “big three.” USHJA reached out to winners of these Finals, all of whom have gone on to have fascinating, successful lives, both inside and outside of the horse industry, and what was received in return is more than we could have imagined.

Equitation has been assigned a multitude of varying definitions, all of which share some of the same basic tenets. Equitation teaches a rider the basic building blocks; the proper skills, education, and discipline necessary to form a solid foundation as an efficient and consistent rider. To excel at the highest and most prestigious level of competition available to a junior rider requires hard work, determination, focus, talent, patience, responsibility, and the drive to successfully achieve what can seem like an impossible goal or dream. The same aspirations and qualities can be applied to life in general. The ability to establish a goal and work hard and responsibly to achieve it is a skill that is invaluable in navigating life as an adult.

USHJA is showcasing over thirty equitation champions in this exhibit, and most all of them generously answered a few questions about how this sport has changed their lives, with their Equitation Finals wins serving as the catalyst that made it all possible.
It can honestly be said that the biggest treasure in this exhibit is the collection of answers, stories, insights and anecdotes that will make you laugh, make you cry, inspire you, and most of all serve as first-hand proof of just how life changing and influential our sport can be.

Come and learn which Olympic medalist has never owned a horse in his entire life. Find out which riders trained themselves at Madison Square Garden. Yes, more than one rider fits that bill! Discover who stayed in the horse business and who went on to have equally successful careers outside of it, and what those careers are. Read the inspirational story of the 1936 Maclay winner, who at 90 years of age, is still riding and enjoying horses. Guess how many of our champions named their mothers when asked “who brought you into the sport?”

The items that USHJA is fortunate to feature in the exhibit include equitation trophies from all three of the major finals. Wilson Dennehy, the only rider in history to win all three of the major equitation championships in the same year, graciously loaned both his ASPCA Maclay and AHSA/USEF Medal Finals trophies to the exhibit. While World Cup Finals rider, Joie Gatlin, generously provided her trophy from winning the first USET Medal Finals- West Championship when it was instituted in 1982. Also on display are Conrad Homfeld’s Olympic Medals from the 1984 Games with Abdullah, the Olympic and Pan-American Medals won by Michael Page aboard his mounts, Grasshopper and Foster, and various memorabilia that USEF President-Elect Chrystine Jones Tauber accumulated from her years spent representing the U.S. Equestrian Team. A large assortment of photos, taken of our riders, both at the time of their Finals win, as well as later on in their careers, will be showcased alongside ribbons and coolers that represent each of the three equitation finals.

“Equitation- A Foundation for Life” opens Monday, October 22, and will run through January 31, 2013. This means anyone attending The Alltech National Horse Show, which is host to this year’s ASPCA Maclay Finals, should seize the opportunity to view this very special exhibit. The Wheeler Museum is located in the USHJA Headquarters at The Kentucky Horse Park and museum hours are weekdays, from 8:30am until 5pm. However, in honor of the National Horse Show, the Wheeler Museum will be open during the weekend of November 3rd and 4th to coincide with the 2012 ASPCA Maclay Final. Museum hours are 10am until 6pm on Saturday, and 10am until 5pm on Sunday.

Those unable to physically visit the museum are still able to experience the exhibit by taking advantage of the Wheeler Museum’s Virtual Celebration exhibit. Experience the stories, view the photos, answer trivia questions, watch videos of winning equitation rounds, and personally interact by creating your own profile page within the exhibit. New content will be added throughout the time the exhibit is open, so check back often.

Visit www.virtualcelebration.com/equitation to learn more and start your tour today!

For more information about the USHJA’s Wheeler Museum please contact Leslie K. Mangan at 859.225.6704 or lkmangan@ushja.org

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