Feb 02, 2023

In Memoriam: James C. Wofford

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The USEA is heartbroken to hear about the loss of James “Jimmy” C. Wofford. A lifelong lover and supporter of the sport, Wofford has had an astounding influence on where eventing is today and has tirelessly supported the goals of the United States Eventing Association. He served as president of the American Horse Show Association (now U.S. Equestrian (USEF)), was the first vice-president of the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET), and served as secretary of the USCTA (now USEA). He served two terms as a member of the FEI Eventing Committee, including two years as vice chairman. In addition, he has served on numerous committees during his career.

"I am speechless," said USEA CEO Rob Burk. "Our community has lost a true horseman, statesman, and legend. I considered Jim a friend as did so many others. Knowing Wofford he would expect us to stay on course and keep riding over the obstacles in our path, so that is what we will do."

Longtime friend of Wofford, Jim Wolf, shared, "Jim is an icon in the sport of eventing. I can't think of a single life in this sport that hasn't been touched by him."

"I am profoundly saddened by the passing of Jimmy," shared Lou Leslie, USEA President. "He will be forever a pillar for us, eventing. I find comfort in knowing that his guiding light will forever be an intrinsic part of the fabric of our sport."

Born in 1944, Wofford was raised on a horse farm in Milford, Kansas. A graduate of Culver Military Academy and the School of Business at the University of Colorado, he comes from a family of equestrians. His father, Col. John W. Wofford, represented the U.S. on the 1932 Olympic show jumping team, went on to coach eventers and show jumpers at the 1952 Olympic Games, and was the founder and first president of the United States Equestrian Team. Wofford’s oldest brother, Jeb, won a team bronze as part of the 1952 Olympic three-day team, the first Games where civilians were permitted to compete in eventing. Wofford’s middle brother, Warren, was first reserve to the U.S. show jumping team at the 1956 Olympics.

Wofford was a key member of the USET’s three-day event squad for two decades, during which time he was named to three Olympic teams where he won two team silver medals and an individual silver medal, won individual and team bronze medals at the 1970 and 1970 World Championships respectively, won team gold at the 1967 Pan American Games, and five national championship titles.

At least one rider on every U.S. Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American team since 1978 has been a student of Wofford. He coached the Canadian team for the 2002 World Championship, the 2003 Pan American Games, and the 2004 Olympic Games.

Widely sought after as a clinician and coach, Wofford is equally well known as an author. He has published four books: Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider, Gymnastics: Systematic Training for Jumping Horses, 101 Eventing Tips, and Take a Good Look Around. For all of these accomplishments and many more Wofford was inducted in the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame in 2003.

In addition to his eventing achievements, Wofford was an active competitor in steeplechase races, rode in numerous horse shows, and fox hunted for over 20 years. Wofford and his wife, Gail, resided at their Fox Covert Farm in Upperville, Virginia. Wofford is survived by his wife Gail, his daughters Jennifer and Hilary, and their families.

The USEA will carry a full obituary when available.

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