Friday, May. 24, 2024

Throwback Thursday: Before The Go-Pro

Think those Go-Pro helmet-cam videos of cross-country rides are novel? Think again.

Back in 1978 the Chronicle ran this photo of Buddy Brown with the following caption: “Man from outer space? No, it’s Buddy Brown riding Flying John at the recent [International Jumping Derby] in Rhode Island. Brown’s helmet included a movie camera with wide-angle lens. Buddy rode the course, filming at the same time, to give viewers a rider’s perspective.”

Brown remembers that day and the horse well. 

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Think those Go-Pro helmet-cam videos of cross-country rides are novel? Think again.

Back in 1978 the Chronicle ran this photo of Buddy Brown with the following caption: “Man from outer space? No, it’s Buddy Brown riding Flying John at the recent [International Jumping Derby] in Rhode Island. Brown’s helmet included a movie camera with wide-angle lens. Buddy rode the course, filming at the same time, to give viewers a rider’s perspective.”

Brown remembers that day and the horse well. 

“I didn’t ride with the helmet cam during the actual class,” Brown recalled. “After the class was over they put the helmet cam on me and wanted me to go jump the grob and the bank to give a rider’s view as you’re going to them and after them.”

The footage was supposed to be used for a documentary, but Brown never saw it. He doesn’t remember how he got roped into wearing the camera, but he describes himself as a “crash test dummy” who wasn’t afraid to volunteer for anything.

“The thing I remember the most is that that thing must have weighed 20 pounds,” said Brown. “It was really awkward and the hardest thing for me was trying to keep my head still as I was doing it, so you didn’t need Dramamine to watch the tape.”

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The American Jumping Derby was founded in 1976 and ran until 1988 at Mason Phelps’ Glen Farm in Portsmouth, R.I. The name officially changed to the International Jumping Derby in 1977, though most remember it under its original name.

Brown rode on the U.S. show jumping team under Bert de Némethy at the time, and natural courses like the one in Rhode Island were de Némethy’s favorites. Flying John was one of the last horses owned by the U.S. Equestrian Team, and he spent time under Robert saddle too. Brown’s main horse, Viscount, had gotten hurt, so he borrowed Flying John for the class. Brown won the title class twice more in Portsmouth aboard horses owned by Peter Oliynyk: in 1984 on Éclair de l’Ile and in 1983 on Charles Fox, a 15.1-hand Connemara-Thoroughbred cross.

“That was my favorite horse show,” said Brown, who earned individual silver and team bronze at the 1976 Mexico City Pan American Games. “I really enjoyed the natural obstacles. Back then I had the delusion—and Bernie [Traurig] did too—to make all three of the teams. I figured dressage would be the hardest, because flatwork wasn’t my best asset. Now I’m a little better though. I never did any three-days, but I had no fear. We fox hunted and hunter paced with our show hunters, they were well-rounded horses.”

Take a look back at the American Jumping Derby with this great video—filmed by the great Gordon Wright and narrated by George H. Morris—from Bernie Traurig’s Equestrian Coach

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