Major General Jonathan “Jack” Burton, always a horse lover, was born in 1919 and began his equestrian career galloping racehorses as a young boy. He enrolled in the ROTC Horse Cavalry Division while at Michigan State University and upon graduation headed to Fort Riley, Kansas, headquarters of the U.S. Cavalry School. Enrolled as a second lieutenant in the Ninth Basic Horsemanship Class, he studied weapons administration, riding, shoeing, veterinary procedures, conditioning, marching, planning maneuvers, pathfinding, night compass courses, and stable management. When the U.S. entered World War II, Burton and his regiment were shipped to Australia to prepare to fight as infantry under General MacArthur and from there he was shipped to New Guinea.
At the close of the war, Burton headed back to Fort Riley to teach Advanced Horsemanship. For the 1948 London Olympic Games, Burton was selected for both the show jumping and three-day eventing teams but ultimately competed on the show jumping team. Eight years later at the 1956 Stockholm Olympic Games he competed for the USET on the three-day eventing team. In 1953, Burton helped organize the first continuous horse trials in the U.S. along with Margaret Lindsley Warden and William Haggard. He also had the honor of writing the first rulebook for combined training.
Burton served a 10-year term as executive vice president of the USET from 1975 to 1985, a three-year term as USCTA president, and was an FEI “I” judge and technical delegate for three disciplines. For years he held FEI Stewards license and American Horse Show Association (now USEF) Judges license. He was also a member of the group that established the North American Young Rider Championships in the 1980s. A lifetime's commitment, not only to eventing but to other equestrian disciplines as well, has resulted in a sport that is strong and viable and infinitely better because of Burton's guardianship.