As a young teen in New York, I stood at the rail in Madison Square Garden next to the puissance wall the night the record breaking jump of 7'1" was achieved. I'll never forget the sounds as the horse cantered to the wall, suddenly grunted, and then went silent. Ears appeared at the top of the wall, followed by the horse's knees then the rest of the horse. Silence was followed by a thud as the horse hit the ground and cantered off. The spectators went crazy. I've never forgotten that moment.
As a kid, I watched legends ride. Bill Steinkraus, Kathy Kusner, Mary Mairs, Frank Chapot and Hugh Wiley competed against the D'Inzeo brothers, the Argentine, Canadian, and the Irish teams. I saw legendary horses like Untouchable, Bold Minstrel, Riviera Wonder, Sinjon, Snowbound, Aberali, and the palomino horse with the flying tail, Nautical. Harry De Leyer and the famous Snowman were practically in my backyard. These things caused me to develop a deep love for U.S. horsemanship history.
When I moved to the Mid West, I was fortunate to work with old cavalry men such as Dr. Riling, one of the last veterinarians at Fort Riley, and Cap. William C. Meyer. Meyer was a gruff old soldier who had taken pack trains into the Gobi desert during WWII. He trained the Mongolian cavalry, and then cared for Emperor Hirohito's white horse after the war. Captain Meyer loaned me three horses and tack to start my riding program.
We have a proud heritage that came from the finest cavalry school in the world, Fort Riley. Fort Riley Cavalry School was the equestrian “think tank” of it’s day and men like, Guy Henry and Harry Chamberlin were at the right place and the right time to develop the roots of good horsemanship in the United States.
In the interest of helping preserve some of our horsemanship history, I developed a website devoted to U.S. horsemanship history. If you are interested in learning more, please visit USHorsemanship.com. Sign up for the newsletter and you'll receive a free download of the French Cavalry Manual.