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Fri, 2018-09-28 08:04

USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame: Class of 2006

Authored By: USEA

The United States Eventing Association's (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to honor the accomplishments, contributions, and dedication of members of the eventing community who have truly made a difference to the sport. Induction into the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame is U.S. eventing's highest honor and recipients include past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founding fathers, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, breeders, and coaches.

In preparation for the 20th anniversary of the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame we’re taking a walk down memory lane to revisit the inductees who have joined the Hall of Fame over the years. Read on to meet the Hall of Fame Class of 2006. Click here to meet the Class of 1999 and click here to meet the Class of 2003.

Denny Emerson

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Edward E. “Denny” Emerson originally taught high school English and sold real estate in his native Vermont. A lifelong fascination with horses led him to eventing, and with his small, tough part-Morgan, Victor Dakin, Emerson was selected to represent the United States in the 1974 World Championships. He was part of the victorious U.S. team that won the gold medal from the British on their home ground. Following that, Emerson was an active competitor with several other horses. He was named Rider of the Year in 1972 and in total rode in 53 seasons of competition, including 45 consecutive seasons of eventing at the Preliminary level or above.

Emerson is a dedicated equestrian professional who passes on his knowledge on to his students. A man of great energy, he is in demand for clinics all over the U.S. His gymnastic jumping exercises have become gospel to many eventers. “I can definitely say that I would not be an international level competitor [without Emerson],” said Kelli Temple, who is one of Emerson´s former students and was named USEA Lady Rider of the Year in 1994, represented Canada in the 1996 Olympics and 2006 World Equestrian Games. “His motivation, work ethic, and commitment to the sport are truly inspirational.”

Emerson has been recognized by a number of associations for his achievements. He was awarded the USEA Wofford Cup for his lifetime service to eventing, the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP) Lifetime Achievement Award, and the inaugural Ayers-Hammett Award by the American Medical Equestrian Association “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to promote safer horsemanship.” In addition, Emerson received the inaugural Equestrian Land Conservation Resource Leadership Award. His passion for land conservancy is demonstrated by his service as trustee and President of the Green Mountain Horse Association in Vermont, as trustee of the Carolina Horse Park in North Carolina, and as trustee of the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource.

Emerson served as President of USEA from 1982 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 1992. Under his leadership, the sport experienced much growth and needed change, including the recognition of the Novice (formerly Pre-Training) level and the realignment of competition guidelines at all levels. He also served as the USET Vice President of Eventing for seven years and was a member of the USEF Executive Committee and the Chairman of the Breeder´s Committee of the AHSA.

Emerson has now adopted endurance as a passion and has competed in 100-mile rides and The Tevis Cup. He and his wife, May, run Tamarack Hill Farms in Strafford, Vermont and Southern Pines, North Carolina. He and his wife, May, have two sons, Rett and Jamie.

Michael Page

Michael Page hails from North Salem, New York and is well known as the rider in one of eventing's most successful combinations with his partner The Grasshopper, who was inducted into the USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame in 1999.

Page won the AHSA Medal Finals in 1956 and went on to train at the French Cavalry School in Saumur, France from 1957 to 1958. His international career included three Olympic Games and three Pan American games. He placed fourth individually and earned team silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 on The Grasshopper and he earned individual bronze and team silver at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 on Foster. His Pan American Games resume is just as impressive with two individual gold medals in 1959 and 1963. In 1963 and 1967, he was a member of the U.S. teams that brought home gold. Individually he won bronze in 1967. 

The Wofford Cup was retired in 1963 in recognition of Page’s achievements after he received it three times. The USET offered a new cup in 1964, designated as the National Open Three-Day Event Championship Trophy, which was to be awarded annually at a specific competition.

Page went on to share his expertise as a coach and trainer. He coached the Canadian three-day team at the 1976 Olympics and served as Chef d'Equipe at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the 1990 World Championships, and 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Page currently serves as the head trainer of Kent School’s equestrian team in Connecticut. His teaching philosophy, in his words, is, "You should go to someone for instruction or advice only if you respect him enough to give 110 percent of what he asks. Every time. All the time."

With a flair for administrative details, Page served as chair of many committees including the AHSA Equitation Committee, AHSA Nominating Committee, and USET Nominating Committee. In addition, he judged the AHSA/ASPCA National Equitation Finals and the Intercollegiate National Finals several times.

Karen Stives

Karen Stives earned her place in three-day eventing history when she rode her mother's big grey gelding, Ben Arthur, to win the individual silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. A single rail down in show jumping cost her the individual gold, but the pair's strong finish helped earn the team gold for the United States. Stives became the first woman ever to win an individual Olympic three-day event medal. Since then, 10 other women have duplicated the feat.

Stives is a New England rider who rose to the top of international competition through sheer diligence, hard work, and plenty of natural ability. Longtime friend and colleague Jim Wolf called her a "small package with a thousand-pound brain.” Stives was the USCTA Rider of Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988. She represented the U.S. in international three-day event competition on her wonderful Thoroughbred, The Saint, and rode for the U.S. at World Championships in Luhmühlen in 1982. It was there that Stives' mother, Lillian Mahoney, first saw an Irish-bred horse named Ben Arthur who had been leased from a British rider by a member of the New Zealand team. Mrs. Maloney purchased him for Karen after the competition, forming a partnership that would pay off two years later in Los Angeles.

Following her retirement from international competition, Stives served as an FEI judge and chair of the USET Three-Day Event Selectors' Committee for many years.

Biko

Biko, a large, bay Irish Thoroughbred/Irish Draught gelding (Beau Charmeur x My Hansel), was owned by Dick and Vita Thompson of Malvern, Pennsylvania. Biko was the stalwart of the U.S. Team in the 1990s with rider Karen O'Connor (a USEA's Eventing Hall of Fame inductee in 2018), and in 1996 helped the U.S. win silver at the Olympic Games in Atlanta. He and O'Connor represented the country on multiple occasions and competed and finished with top placings, including third at the Badminton Horse Trials CCI4* in and fifth at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4* in 1998.

In 1999, he won the Horse of the Century Award from the USEA. During the induction ceremony, O'Connor described Biko, "He had a full brother who competed the Grand National, amazing conformation, beautiful withers - which actually kept me in the saddle most of the time, great shoulder, wonderful length hip to hock. He was an unbelievably good-looking horse with impressive size at 17.3 hands. He had an amazing work ethic and loved to be ridden every day, and an unbelievable gallop and incredible brain. A gentle giant."

The gelding was an ambassador for the sport of eventing and was beloved by children and all who met him. He was retired in 1999 at age 15, and a ceremony was held at the 2001 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event to commemorate his career. Biko passed away on January 29, 2014, at the age of 30.

Kilkenny

Kilkenny (aka "Henry"), a bay gelding owned by Mrs. Dorothea Wofford, competed in two Olympic Games with rider Jim Wofford (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003) in 1968 and 1972, winning team silver medals in both Games. He and Wofford also won the individual bronze at the 1970 Eventing World Championship in Punchestown, Ireland, and competed at the Badminton Horse Trials in 1968. In addition, Kilkenny also competed with Tommy Brannan at the World Championships at Burghley in 1966.

According to Wofford, "Henry was an impressive horse with a trot that had all four feet off the ground and a gallop that took a young man to enjoy. He was disdainful in dressage, but tolerated it because of his strong desire to please. He took a fierce hold cross-country, but I rode him throughout his career in a snaffle because I then held the belief that my horse's affection is the strongest bridle of all and believe that to this moment. He was afraid of only two things: bagpipes and not trying hard enough.”

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