Thursday, July 14, 2011

Famous Show Hunters

If you ride the hunters or just like watching the perfectionism that is inbred in a show hunter, then you might know a few of these horses.

The National Show Hunter Hall of Fame inducts the best of all time into their hallowed halls.  I have seen a few of these in action in their prime and what a thrill.  I can still recall watching Gozzi at the Blowing Rock Horse Show in the 70's and was fortunate to spend time last December with renowned rider Bernie Traurig who rode Gozzi early in his career.  Gozzi was just brilliant. You watched him go and you just knew he was special. 

A more recent inductee is Ashford Castle.  I saw him go at Upperville in the 90's when he was owned by Pam Covington who rode him in the A/O's.  He was later bought by the Lindner family if I recall (someone please correct me if I am wrong).  He was dark bay, almost black, not a big horse but he could jump.

Another favorite was Ruxton.  I saw him go at Blowing Rock in the 70's.

Many of the early hunters were thoroughbreds and they galloped to the jumps. Everyone jumped at least 3'6 in those days and riding on outside courses was the norm.  I wish we could go back.

A more recent famous horse is Rox Dene.  She was amazing, is still alive and has produced a few foals. 

I interviewed Kenny Wheeler not long ago and he told me that Isglide was one of the few horses that he and his wife Sally never sold.  And she was a mare, most of his horses are geldings.

One that should be in the Hall of Fame is Dawn Fogel's famous gelding, Oscar.  I interviewed Dawn at the Upperville Horse Show about 10 years ago and she told me that she was offered a blank check for the horse and turned it down.  Can you imagine?  I believe he is still around and she used to take him on the road with her after she retired him, just to hack him and he loved going to shows even after his prime.  That is the mark of a true show hunter!  He is a big horse and Dawn is very tall. She would just loop the reins and he'd canter around at a slow pace and just jump.  He had so much power off the ground. 

We all hope that one day we will have that special horse, one that will be remembered.  They are so rare, finding that combination of beauty, athleticism, soundness, innate ability, and most of all attitude.  They have to be true competitors, they need to want to win and have the ability to be so incredibly consistent.  That is the hard part.  We can all dream can't we?

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