Good-bye to two great hearts

16 Sep

There was a ‘golden age’ of horse sport, at least in the US, when the American teams were the ones to beat, certainly in show jumping and for a while in long-format eventing.  The US had strong programs, strong coaches in the three disciplines of jumping, eventing and dressage, and won its first Olympic team bronze in dressage after a long dry spell.

There were families who had horses, supported horse sport, produced next generations. Very much as it continues to be in Europe.

Then, everything in the U.S. took a different turn, so that today, we have less open land, far fewer horse-culture families, very different international structure and coaching.

But the U.S. remarkably kept finding sponsors—the key to a sport’s health.

Two of the top American horse sport sponsors recently passed away, and the sport is so much the poorer for their absence. They came from different parts of the U.S., but settled in Southern California. They all rode at successful FEI level, then began to explore other ways to contribute to top sport.

Linda Fowler  created Epona Farm in order to provide USEF with a West Coast outpost,  hosting training sessions, clinics, and eventually providing a base for Olympic medalist and  trainer Debbie McDonald. Behind the scenes, Linda  made unheralded contributions of all kinds, trying to help  match success to her passion for top sport.

Dick and Jane Brown  formed a 25 year  union with Debbie’s Olympic team partner, Guenter Seidel. But even more, they helped guide the U.S. into understanding how to fundraise, how to create both shows and parties to help take sport into the 21st century.  The arena at Gladstone, US team headquarters, is named for them.

Linda Fowler and Dick Brown are gone, but Jane Brown is still with us: a toast to a great human being, unique and wonderful indeed. Condolences on the loss of your great partner.

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