Monday, May. 20, 2024

Gaining Through Giving

Most of us involved in equestrian sports work hard to make a living to support ourselves and our horses, and although we spend significant time pursuing our passion, for most horse lovers it’s just one aspect of our complex lives. For Jane Forbes Clark, profiled in this issue (p. 21), horses are also just a part of her many philanthropic activities, and her lifelong dedication to giving back to equestrian sports has changed many people’s lives along the way—including her own.
PUBLISHED

ADVERTISEMENT

Most of us involved in equestrian sports work hard to make a living to support ourselves and our horses, and although we spend significant time pursuing our passion, for most horse lovers it’s just one aspect of our complex lives. For Jane Forbes Clark, profiled in this issue (p. 21), horses are also just a part of her many philanthropic activities, and her lifelong dedication to giving back to equestrian sports has changed many people’s lives along the way—including her own.

Clark’s love of equestrian sports has enhanced our country’s medal count for the past several decades at the Olympic and World Championship levels and beyond, but, more importantly, her generosity has enriched the lives of individual riders and drivers such as Molly Ashe-Cawley, Leslie Howard, Robert Dover, Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Jimmy Fairclough in ways we can only imagine.

Many aspiring young riders dream of competing internationally and wish to represent their country at the Olympics. But most of them discover early on that reality must take precedence over dreams when it comes to the fiscal actualities of horse sports. Some riders never lose that dream, however, and it’s through the support of owners such as Jane Clark that they reach the highest levels of the sport and achieve their ultimate objectives.

Back in the 1950s, August A. Busch Jr. became the first person in corporate America to donate a horse (Miss Budweiser) to be used on the Olympic team. Mr. Busch’s gener-osity allowed Arthur McCashin to stand on the podium and accept the team bronze at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki after riding the mare, also known as Circus Rose, to glory. Other generous owners such as Patrick Butler, who owned Balbuco, Untouchable and Sloopy, to name a few, enabled riders such as Conrad Homfeld, Kathy Kusner and Neal Shapiro to realize their dreams in the 1970s and ’80s.

ADVERTISEMENT

Today’s road to international acclaim in horse sports is more complex than it was 30 or 40 years ago. In the past, the powers that be at the U.S. Equestrian Team selected which horses and riders should be partnered together for the best possible success rate. It was a function of matching the traits of a particular horse to the abilities of a particular rider instead of a matter of who had the fattest checkbook.

Certainly one major change in our world is the advent of more opportunities for amateurs and juniors to show at the highest levels. Consequently, international-caliber horses that may previously have been partnered with top professionals are now finding their niche in the junior and amateur-owner ring or are even taking these riders onto grand prix classes.
 
Nike’s famous slogan “Just Do It”, which was developed in 1988, is almost a mantra of this generation. Sitting on the sidelines and cheering on your team is no longer something people aspire to do; they want to go out and earn the accolades themselves.

Jane Clark chose to purchase horses for others instead of focusing on her own international equestrian pursuits. While most of us can’t follow in Jane’s exact footsteps, we can give back to our sports in other ways—such as volunteering our time or making more modest donations to worthy causes—that enrich our lives and the lives of others.
 
Early 20th century British statesman Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” And, ultimately, isn’t that what our time here is all about?

Tricia Booker

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse