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Category: Archives

Double Golds for Marilyn Little

by Katherine O. Rizzo Until 2010 the eventing community had never heard of Marilyn Little of Raylyn Farm, as the Frederick native was in the middle of a very successful international show jumping career. But this summer, just five years after her first event, Marilyn’s name echoes across the eventing world both here in the U.S. and abroad as the 33-year-old just won two gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. In September of 2010, Marilyn was watching the FEI World Championships of Eventing on television and decided she wanted to try her hand at the sport. That October, Marilyn and the show jumper Udonna entered the October Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy Farm in Adamstown. She was hooked and set her sights next on the 2011 Fair Hill International–a lofty goal, as Marilyn would have to qualify through a series of stepping-stones from Training level through Advanced in just one year. Although many thought this was an impossible goal to achieve, Marilyn’s determination and extensive skills as a high performance competitor proved them wrong as she finished ninth in the CCI3* division at Fair Hill riding RF Rovano Rex, making them the highest placing Maryland pair that year. The next year, Marilyn and RF Demeter placed ninth at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* event. Since then, Marilyn has finished in the top 10...

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2009 Horseman of the Year: Bob Shirley

by Katherine O. Rizzo (printed in the February 2010 issue of  The Equiery) Each year, the Maryland Horse Council recognizes a professional who has had an outstanding and influential career in the Maryland horse industry. This person is typically someone in the industry whose work is widely known but not necessarily widely publicized in the media. The recognition of such individuals is designed to inspire young people to combine their love of horses with their chosen careers. The 2009 honoree is Bob Shirley, a man who has had an outstanding and long career in the Maryland horse industry. Bob has been involved in many aspects of the horse and agriculture industries including farming, announcing at fairs and shows, educating the state’s youth, breeding Clydesdales and foxhunting. The Riding Gene Bob Shirley comes from a long pedigree of professional horsemen. His grandfather was Major Joseph W. Shirley, Sr., the commanding officer of the only cavalry troop in the Maryland National Guard. His father, Joseph W. Shirley, Jr., bred Clydesdales and hunted with Carrollton Hounds throughout the 1930s and 1940s. With such strong horsemen in the family, it only seemed natural for Bob to get on a horse at an early age. His earliest memories of horses are during World War II. With the shortage of gasoline throughout the country, Bob’s father would hitch up Black Beauty, a Shetland/Hackney cross pony, and take...

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The Soul of a Cowboy

By Hope Holland On the evening of August 19, the Carroll County Arts Council and internationally renowned wildlife artist and Carroll County resident Bart Walter hosted a preview of his latest work, an amazingly realistic colossal sculpture of a bucking bronco with rider called the “Battle of Wills.” The $15 cost of the tickets to view the statue paled in significance compared to the sight of the statue itself, but was a material benefit for the Carroll County Arts Council as there were well over 80 people in attendance. The open house format at Walter’s studio offered a friendly atmosphere with lots of room to walk all the way around the immense statue. Because the sculpture will be installed in the traffic circle at the entrance to the Jackson Hole, Wyoming airport, Walter wanted it to tell a different story from different angles. Depending on the view’s vantage point, the rider is either secure in the saddle, … or not. The bronc rider has already lost one stirrup and, according to Walter, “He may not be on that bronc for much longer.” Good thing he will be there eternally in his new niche at the airport once he is fashioned into bronze. Walter was introduced to the gathering by Sandy Oxx of the Carroll County Arts Council and spoke informally about the process of obtaining the commission from the...

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1998 Horseman of the Year: Jack Vordemberge

by Ross Peddicord Each year the Maryland Horse Council recognizes a professional who has had an outstanding career in the Maryland horse industry. Presented at the annual Maryland Horseman’s Party (a fundraiser for the Maryland 4-H Foundation and MHC). The recognition is designed to inspire children who have an interest in horses that there are an array of rewarding career options in the horse industry. Jack Vordemberge figures he has done just about everything with horses—“except ride Western or in races!” He has been a top show rider, an “A” pony clubber, horse show judge, announcer, hunt whipper-in, Gittings Horsemanship winner, captain of the McDonogh cavalry, animal science major at the University of Maryland, even a gymnast on horseback! For about the last 25 yeas, Jack, along with his wife Charlette (better known as “Boo”) has been the proprietor of Vordemberge Saddlery, the venerable institution established in 1884, the granddaddy of all Maryland tack shops. But before the business of business claimed his attention, Jack rode for what he terms “just a great collection of classic horseman”— men such as former USET coach Bert de Nemethy, steeplechase Hall of Famers Paddy and Mike Smithwick; legendary coaches of the McDonogh school riding teams, Willis Lynch, George Edel and Jose de Murgiondo; dressage master Henry Asmis; the great Eastern Shore MFH Wilbur Ross Hubbard and his renowned huntsman, “Hounddog” Browm; and...

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2007 Horseman of the Year: Joseph Vanzego

By Katherine O. Rizzo The Maryland Horse Council annually recognizes a professional who has had an outstanding and influential career in the Maryland horse industry. The recognition of the individual is designed to inspire young people to combine their love of horses with their chosen careers. The Horseman or Horsewoman of the year is usually someone in the industry whose work is known but not widely celebrated in the media. This year, the honoree is Joseph Vanzego, a man who brought so much more to his clients than just his farrier services. From Buffalo Soldier to blacksmith, Joseph Vanzego touched the lives of many in Maryland and beyond. As a skilled blacksmith and caring horseman, Vanzego shod horses at private farms, public stables, and racetracks in Washington D.C, Maryland and Northern Virginia for 60 years. This award is not only to recognize Vanzego’s great skills as a farrier, but also to highlight how one man can make such a difference in so many lives. His article pays tribute to Vanzego, who died September 24, 2007. LEARNING THE TRADE Born in 1922 in Seat Pleasant, Vanzego left his family’s home in 1940 to join the Army, learning the basics of military life in a then segregated Army. When the U.S entered World War II in December of 1941, Vanzego went to Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas, to become a...

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Jane Toal: Pumphrey Memorial Award

The Pumphrey Memorial Awards Some people volunteer for a show here, or an event there. They serve on a committee or board for a year or two. Or volunteer while their kids are involved. For others, volunteering is a way to build their resume and to network. And then there are those who volunteer just because it’s the right thing to do. Just because it’s their way of giving to the sport they love, or the community to which they belong. They don’t volunteer for the accolades, titles, “leadership roles,” or wall plaques. They volunteer because it is how they can help. They are willing to take the odd jobs, those no one else wants. And they continue to do it, year in and year out. Indeed, they are so steady and reliable that it’s easy to overlook them or take them for granted. The Maryland Horse Council’s Pumphrey Memorial Award recognizes these unsung heroes, these “behind the scenes” volunteers without whom we would not be able to run our shows, build our facilities, or enjoy our sport. Jane Toal For 50 years, Jane Toal has been a steady volunteer with the Iron Bridge Hounds (now merged into the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds). She also volunteers for numerous trails groups, the Girl Scouts, and the East Park Civic Association. “She’s just always there — ALWAYS there,” explains Mary Anne Steele, who grew...

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