For those of you who rode hunters back in the early 70's you'll be familiar with Winter Place Farm. I have never been there, but certainly knew all about it, like everyone else who followed the hunters in the 70's. It was built by real estate developer James Bradley Caine in 1972, in Salisbury, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore, not far from Ocean City, the place where Mr. Caine made his fortune before he turned to the horse world.
The concept of Winter Place was new way back then. To build a world class facility and then fill it with "made" hunters and jumpers for the AA show circuit, well, it had not been done before in the U.S. although it was common in Europe.
The facility was opulent by anyone's standards. The barn had 35 stalls originally, with a indoor larger than that in Madison Square Garden. It was filled with three large chandeliers and there were chandeliers scattered about like a fine mansion. There were whirlpool baths for the horses that were three feet deep and could be heated to 100 degrees. There were fountains like the one above, dozens of carriage lamps, Persian rugs. It was truly something special.
You can get a glimpse of the fabulous indoor behind a young Nelson Pessoa who is giving young Bradley Caine a riding lesson. Bradley is Mr. Caine's daughter and is a well respected professional today, living in near-by Delaware.
By the end of 1972, in its first year of showing, Winter Place had won more than 100 blue ribbons in Class A shows and 30 tri-colors. As the horses won at the top shows Mr. Caine continued to develop his showplace, acquiring antique wagons and carriages, building a museum to showcase his newly restored purchases. He put in a swimming pool and built a barn to go with it, for the horses, of course. He put in a Grand Prix jumping course, a gift shop for tours that would now be coming to the farm.
Jet Run (pictured above) was Winter Place's first great success in world-class jumping. He was an 8-year-old bay gelding that in 1974 won the knock-down-and-out class at Harrisburg, took second in the President's Cup at Washington and won the Grand Prix of New York at Madison Square Garden.
Here is another photo of Jet Run:
Young Bradley Caine was also a successful junior rider. Here are some photos of her during this time period:
One of the most famous hunters of this era was Gozzi, another Winter Place horse. Here is the brilliant Gozzi with Bernie Traurig in the irons. Bernie is a well-respected trainer and clinician, living on the West Coast today. He was in Virginia last year for a clinic.
Winter Place sponsored the Ladies Invitational at the Washington International Horse Show. Kathy Kusner is the winner. She went on to an illustrious career with horses, making the Olympics, was a very good jockey and even starred in the Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit.
I don't know the entire history of Winter Place. It is still in existence today, now called Wicomico Equestrian Center (since 1993). It now sits on 17 acres as part of Winter Place Park (which includes many ball fields and playgrounds).
Winter Place was just "the place" for hunters in the 1970's. It's illustrious past is indeed noteworthy and the opulence and success it represented would be difficult to duplicate today.