Kursinski, Steinwedell, Devereux And The Natural Elected To Show Jumping Hall Of Fame

Apr 7, 2017 - 1:12 PM

Olympic medalist Anne Kursinski; Fran Steinwedell, a devoted owner and supporter of U.S. show jumping; Walter B. Devereux III, a major contributor to the sport; and FEI World Cup winner The Natural are the latest inductees into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. They will be honored at a ceremony held at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) on June 1 before the start of the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon.

Anne Kursinski and Eros. Photo by Tish Quirk
Anne Kursinski and Eros. Photo by Tish Quirk

Anne Kursinski has been an influential competitor for more than 30 years and is one of the all-time leading riders in U.S. show jumping history. She rode in three Olympic Games, winning two team silver medals, including the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta with Eros and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, where she also tied for fourth individually, aboard her famed mount Starman, a 2012 Hall of Fame inductee.

She began her international riding career while still in high school. Kursinski won individual and team gold medals at the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, riding Livius. She has represented the United States at two FEI World Equestrian Games, on 47 Nations Cup teams and in 10 FEI World Cup Finals.

Some of her major national wins include the American Invitational, American Gold Cup and Hampton Classic (N.Y.). Internationally, she was the first American to win the Grand Prix of Rome, the second woman and third American to win the Grand Prix of Aachen (Germany), and the first American and first woman to win the Gran Premio Pulsar in Monterrey, Mexico.

In 1988 and 1992 Kursinski was voted American Horse Shows Association Horsewoman of the Year. In 1991 she won the Leading Lady Rider Award at the FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the U.S. Olympic Committee named her Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year. That year L’Annee Hippique ranked her as the No. 1 American and No. 1 female rider in the world. In 1995 she was AHSA Equestrian of the Year, and in 2011 she was voted America’s Favorite Show Jumping Equestrian.

Kursinski is a U.S. Hunter Jumper Association clinician, member of the USHJA and U.S. Equestrian Team Executive Committees and of the U.S. Equestrian Federation Board of Directors. She was a team selector for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, where the U.S. teams won bronze and silver, respectively.

Kursinski continues to train riders at her Market Street facility in Frenchtown, N.J., and all over the country. She has worked with many top riders such as Hunter Holloway, Victoria Birdsall, Katie Cox and eventer Matt Brown. In 2012 Kursinski released the second edition of her book, Anne Kursinski’s Riding And Jumping Clinic, and in 2015 she launched an online instructional website called Riding & Jumping Mentor, where members benefit from her vast knowledge via instructional videos and articles.

Frances B. "Fran" Steinwedell
Frances B. “Fran” Steinwedell

Kursinski’s longtime patron, Frances B. “Fran” Steinwedell, is also being inducted for her decades of support of U.S. show jumping. In addition to her ownership of several top grand prix horses for Kursinski, she has helped pave the road to success for talented riders such as her daughter, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin.

Throughout her junior years, Steinwedell schooled, hunted and showed horses in the Midwest. In 1946, she received a certificate of honor from the Chicago Sun newspaper after she co-produced one of the first all junior horse shows. In the 1970s she showed amateur-owners in California. Her daughter won both the Medal and Maclay Finals and went on to represent the United States in Europe before opening her own business.

Over the years, Steinwedell loaned several horses to the USET. Her most noteworthy included Livius and Starman. Steinwedell was also part of the Eros Group.

Steinwedell was president of the Flintridge Riding Club where she worked with Jimmy Williams to develop the sport on the West Coast. She initiated the Grand Prix of Flintridge, the second grand prix ever held on the West Coast and one of the first FEI World Cup qualifiers in the west. She was also a founding member of the American Grandprix Association, and she has served on many boards including the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association for 20 years, West Coast Equestrian and the USET, where she is an Honorary Life Trustee. She was a founding member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, and she continues to serve on its board. Steinwedell was PCHA Horsewoman of the year in 1992.

Steinwedell was the first person to reach 35 years as a member of the USET Gold Medal Club.

Walter B. Devereux had a lifelong interest in horses beginning at the age of 6. He was originally passionate about the sport of polo along with his grandfather and father who helped found the Intercollegiate Polo Association in 1903. The Devereux family was the first in the country to create a family polo team.

Devereux became secretary of the National Horse Show in 1948 and went on to serve as vice president in 1950 and then three separate terms as president (1954-1956; 1961; 1963-1969).

Under his leadership the National became less of a gentleman’s club and more of a business. He guided the 1968 move of the National from the old to the new Madison Square Garden in New York City. The new venue offered less space for horses, and Devereux was forced to streamline the schedule. Despite those hardships, along with two nights of snow, the 1968 National attracted record crowds and turned a profit, which helped save  America’s most famous horse show.

Devereux owned several hunters and jumpers with his wife Bunny, and their daughters, Lindly and Anne, also rode and competed. Always ready to do what he could to support the sport, Devereux purchased and then permanently loaned the legendary jumping horse Sinjon to the USET, where he became a hugely successful mount for Olympic riders George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Bill Steinkraus. Sinjon participated on 19 winning Nations Cup teams and helped the U.S. team win silver at the 1960 Rome Olympics with Morris in the saddle. Sinjon was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1999.

Devereux also served for many years as an officer and director of the AHSA, now the U.S. Equestrian Federation, as well as the USET. He also served on the Bureau of the Fédération Equestre Internationale. He was a respected judge and headed judging panels for the Pan American Games.

Devereux passed away in 1970. His contributions to the sport are honored to this day with the USEF’s annual presentation of the Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award to the person who demonstrates the ideals of sportsmanship through commitment, dedication and service to the sport.

The Natural
The Natural

The first show horse to have a million-dollar price tag, The Natural achieved an outstanding record that included a win in the FEI World Cup Finals and a team gold medal at the World Championships. The Hanoverian gelding, foaled in 1977, was ridden in the 1980s by Rodney Jenkins and Katharine Burdsall, and later by Alice Debany.

Known originally as Donald 158, he was imported from West Germany by Paula Inman. He won more than $150,000, as well as a grand prix in Denmark, with Terry Rudd. Katie Monahan rode him at Lake Placid in 1984 and recognized his natural talent in the jumper ring. She changed his name to The Natural after watching the 1984 Robert Redford baseball movie of the same name.

Under new ownership of Sheldon Gordon (together first with Sale Johnson and then Rodney Jenkins), The Natural had a standout 1985 season. With Jenkins in the saddle, The Natural won five grand prix events, including the American Gold Cup. The Natural then sold for the record sum to Paul Greenwood, and on Christmas Eve of that year he moved to Greenwood’s Old Salem Farm in North Salem, N.Y.

Greenwood chose Burdsall to pilot The Natural, and they won their first grand prix together, the $30,000 Gold Coast Grand Prix, at the Palm Beach Polo Club (Fla.) in 1986. They were selected for the U.S. team for the 1986 World Championships in Aachen, Germany, and helped the U.S. team win gold.

They then put together an amazing run, winning three of the biggest grand prix events in the United States: the Hampton Classic, the American Gold Cup and the President’s Cup at the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.). These three wins, all World Cup qualifiers, earned the pair a trip to the 1987 World Cup Finals in Paris where they emerged as champions. For good measure, they stayed in Europe and won the Lucerne Grand Prix in Switzerland and the International Jumping Masters of Germany.

The following year, The Natural and Burdsall were selected for the U.S. team for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. However, days before leaving, The Natural popped a splint, forcing him to miss the Games, undergo surgery and take a year off.

Burdsall retired from competition, and Debany took over his rehabilitation. The two would spend three years together, continuing the horse’s incredible career. In 1990, Debany and The Natural won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows (Canada) as well as the Grand Prix of Detroit (Mich.) and the grand prix at the National Horse Show.

The Natural retired in the spring of 1994 at the age of 17. He lived another 14 comfortable years at Old Salem Farm before being laid to rest on April 12, 2008.

The Show Jumping Hall of Fame is located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Plaques honoring those who have been honored can be seen at the Horse Park’s Rolex Stadium. Mementos and artifacts from the sport’s history are on display as part of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame collection at the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Wheeler Museum at the Horse Park.

Further information about the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, including the plaques of all previous inductees, is available on line at www.ShowJumpingHallofFame.net.

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Categories: News, U.S. Show Jumping
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