Free Rein With: Peter Doubleday

Feb 18, 2010 - 10:00 PM
Photo by James Leslie Parker.

Peter Doubleday usually has the best seat in the house at a horse show, whether it’s high in the announcer’s stand or by the in-gate. Doubleday has been the voice of American show jumping for decades, and he’s also at the helm, as manager, of three of the most prestigious shows in North America—the Pennsylvania National, the Royal Winter Fair (Ont.) and Devon (Pa.), where he co-manages with David Distler.

Doubleday has announced the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, six FEI World Cup Show Jumping Finals, and at many of the top U.S. shows. He’s also looking forward to serving as the production coordinator and chief announcer at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Doubleday’s father, a radio and TV broadcaster in Syracuse, N.Y., announced horse shows on the weekends as a hobby. Doubleday accompanied him and caught the horse show bug. He rode as a junior, and once he graduated college, he took a job grooming. “I mucked stalls, braided, drove the van and foxhunted,” Doubleday said. He also started announcing and gradually transitioned to it full time for many breeds and disciplines. Managing shows was a natural evolution.

“I do some big Saddlebred shows still,” he said. “I used to announce probably 40 weeks of the year. I used to announce for every breed imaginable, from Miniature Horses to Arabians. That’s one nice thing that I think helped my career—I met and enjoyed people from all different breeds, not just hunters and jumpers.”

Doubleday lives with his wife of five years, Chrissie, and their Jack Russell named Jack.

Name: Peter Doubleday                                             

Home Base: Southern Pines, N.C.                                                    

Age: 59

When was the last time you rode a horse?
Five years ago; I just hacked around. I do miss it. [My wife Chrissie and I are] hoping that when we do retire we can get a few nice Quarter Horses and just be able to ride out in the beautiful country here every day.

What is your drink of choice?
Beer—of course, I love all Anheuser-Busch products, but I’m a Pabst Blue Ribbon man also.

What one item from your wardrobe best personifies you?

Converse high-tops—that’s my trademark.

What was the last book you read?

David Letterman’s band leader Paul Shaffer’s autobiography titled We’ll Be Here For The Rest Of Our Lives.

What person, alive or dead, would you most like to meet, and why?

Paul McCartney. He’s a genius at what he does, making music.

What’s your biggest self-indulgence?

Building my own house. It’s something I always wanted to do right from scratch. It’s not large, but it’s exactly what I wanted.

In retrospect, what has been the best decision you’ve made in life?
Being able to be my own boss and carve out my career as an announcer and trying to be the best announcer there ever has been.

What’s your dream vacation?
Ireland. I’ve been there once, since my wife’s family is from Ireland, and I fell in love with it. I’d love to go over there and spend a whole month.

What three things are most likely to be found in your refrigerator at all times?
Coca-Cola, eggs and beer.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Announcing the 1996 Olympic Games was the most incredible moment I think anybody could experience.

Who is your real-life hero?
My father, Robert “Deacon” Doubleday. Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, he was trying to do what I was trying to do in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which is trying to explain what’s going on at a horse show to a spectator. That’s one major thing that he instilled in me when I started the business—informing the audience.

What’s the most important lesson you learned the hard way?

I had a president of a horse show come to me wanting suggestions about how to make the show better. So, I gave some suggestions to him but not to the manager. The next year, I was doing other things when that horse show rolled around. I learned that no matter how you approach things, you need to make sure that everybody who’s going to be affected by information or decisions is communicated with.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a day off?

I exercise almost every day, swimming, lifting weights or running. I golf, and I love all kinds of sports.

How many miles do you travel in a year?

I used to put about 30,000 miles on my car every year. I fly a lot more now, but I probably travel 40,000 miles a year.

What is your least favorite chore around the house?

Nothing—I’m a neatnik. I clean the house all the time; I love cleaning.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. “Free Rein With: Peter Doubleday” ran in the February 19, 2010 issue. Check out the table of contents to see what great stories are in the magazine this week.


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