“Should I?” were the only two words Leo Conroy asked, but nevertheless Susie Humes understood the question. Though she wasn’t judging that particular class, she had parked herself next to Conroy and watched as horse after horse entered the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, for the 1997 edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show. And when Rick Fancher and Dawn Fogel’s Osczar picked up the canter for the regular working over fences class, she made sure to straighten up—after all, it was Osczar.
By that time, the chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Alla Czar—Antrim) had garnered a reputation with his slow, rhythmical canter, martingale-less chest and explosive jump. And his record reflected it. He’d won consistently at HITS Ocala (Florida) and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (Virginia) while also collecting tricolors at the historic indoor shows such as the Pennsylvania National and Washington International (Maryland).
“He was the kind of horse that people ran to the ring to watch go because he was so spectacular,” Humes said. “When they announced that he was on deck or something, you could see a wave of people from the horse show come over to watch him go. He had a big fan club.”
And that Tuesday in late September, Humes watched with Conroy as the gelding rocked back and soared over each of the eight jumps. There could only be one meaning to the “Should I?” when Osczar landed off the last fence.
“In other words, ‘Should I give him 100?’ and I said, ‘I would,’ ” said Humes. “Rick picked up a gallop at the in-gate and galloped around there. Never missed by an inch. I mean he was right on it. The horse jumped every jump spectacularly. If there was ever a 100 trip, that was it.”
Conroy said at the time, “There was no doubt. I don’t think there was any way that round could have been improved upon. It was a flawless round.”
Osczar became the first horse ever to earn perfection with the open numerical system.
Watch Rick Fancher and Osczar’s history-making round:
“Gratified would be an understatement,” said Fancher. “I felt then, and I still feel to this day, if it was going to be given that that could very easily be the horse that it should be given to. He just was a very, very unusual animal. And I think deserves to be remembered in that light.”
Even after 21 years, Humes still remembers the Osczar sensation.
“It could win today for sure,” said Humes. “There’s not another Osczar, I really don’t believe—I mean he was a foot and a half over every jump. He was never anywhere near the jump. And that’s as rare as jumping in perfect form—and then to never ever touch a jump or even be close to touching a jump. He never flattened out. He never jumped plain. He always jumped every jump in perfect, perfect form.”
If you enjoyed this story, be sure to read “Horse Of A Lifetime: Osczar” in the February 25 & March 4, 2019, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse for a more in-depth look at Rick Fancher and Dawn Fogel’s relationship with Osczar.
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