Jim Wofford became the third candidate to announce his application for the job of U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe today, Jan. 24. Wofford, of Upperville, Va., will be up against USEF President David O’Connor and the joint team of Phillip Dutton and Bobby Costello for the position. The deadline for applications is Jan. 31.
Wofford’s competitive accolades include riding on the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games teams and being named for the team in 1980, picking up two team silver medals and one individual silver medal. He also rode at the 1970 and 1978 World Championships, earning an individual bronze at the former and a team bronze at the latter. He trained under Jack Le Goff when the eventing team was based at the U.S. Equestrian Team headquarters in Gladstone, N.J., and hopes to create a program reminiscent of that one by serving as full-time coach and manager.
“One can say, though our program has been successful over the last 20 years, it has not been quite as successful as Jack Le Goff’s era. We have to find a way to duplicate that control of the scene, keeping in mind 21st century practices and conditions,” said Wofford, 66. “We are not going to go back to a time where we have a permanent national training center.”
In addition to his own success, at least one student from Wofford’s program has ridden on every Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games and Pan American Games team since 1978. He noted that he’s coached Karen O’Connor, David O’Connor, Kim Severson, Wash Bishop, John Williams and Gina Miles, among many others.
“I’ll let the search committee and Active Athletes judge each proposal on its merits. What I bring to the table is a lifetime of horsemanship and 35 years of coaching and producing riders,” said Wofford. “There is one common denominator that has run through all of our teams, and that is former students to my program.”
Wofford also wrote the popular manuals Training The Three-Day Event Horse And Rider and Gymnastics: Systematic Training Of The Jumping Horse and served as president of the American Horse Shows Association, vice-president of the U.S. Equestrian Team and secretary of the U.S. Combined Training Association. He was the Canadian Eventing team coach for the 2002 WEG in Jerez, Spain, and 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
If hired for the U.S. team position, Wofford’s overall goal is simple: He wants the United States to dominate in international competitions.
“I would like for the USET to be successful competitively, and at the same time, I want to establish a truly American system as George Morris has done of the jumpers,” said Wofford.
Though he just submitted his application, Wofford said the position has been in the back of his mind for years, and he’s been laying the groundwork for this potentially big change for a long time.
“I knew this opportunity would present itself,” he said. “Mark [Phillips, current Chef d’Equipe] had spoken to me privately about his retirement, so I started to position myself so I wouldn’t have any conflicts. I closed my program and rented my barn [Fox Covert Farm] to a hunter/jumper rider. I had a few small sponsorship deals, and I no longer do that. I have a monthly column at Practical Horseman, and I have advised my editors that if I get the job, I would like a leave of absence.”