This year, four Maryland riders entered into The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club. The club recognizes dressage riders and horses whose combined age totals 100 years or older. The combination can compete at any level at recognized or schooling shows. Applicants must send their information and forms to the foundation before they compete. The club was formed in 1996 and there are currently 112 members. This was the first year that anyone from Maryland has qualified.
The newest members to the club hailing from Maryland are Leslie Hubbell (Darnestown), Ann Yellott (Cockeysville), Marion Julier (Gaithersburg) and Ami Howard (Joppa). Here are their stories in their own words (except Ann Yellott, whose daugther Andie submitted her report).
Leslie Hubbell & Waps Classic, members #103
I grew up in a suburb near Chicago but did not take my first riding lesson until I was 52. Although I loved and dreamed of horses like most girls, the only experience I had was the occasional trail ride at camp. I earned my BA in English and in my 40s I went back for a Masters and PhD in music history. I have two children and my daughter always wanted to ride but due to the breakup of my marriage it was not possible until she was self-supporting. Going to her shows got me interested and finally I said, “why not?”
Since then, I have owned three horses (one at a time) and never progressed beyond Training level. After my second husband had a stroke in 1994, I became his caregiver as well as continuing to work full time as a university budget analyst until my retirement at the end of 2011. Being able to spend a few hours a week on a horse is what kept me going.
In 2005, Classic, my daughter’s horse who had been shown up through Prix St. Georges by her and Intermediaire I by her trainer, was retired from active competition and became my schoolmaster. The past six years have been particularly difficult for my husband and me and it would be hard to overestimate the pleasure and comfort Classic has given me. I, and my husband, owe him a lot.
Classic is an Appaloosa and was born and bred in Pennsylvania. His mother died of colic shortly after his birth and my daughter feels all the attention he received has caused him to conclude he was a really a human being. He was born a bay with a white blanket and was originally intended to be a breeding stallion but when his brown coat began to roan out, he was gelded. My daughter bought him as a two-year-old. He was trained for both dressage and hunters but after cracking a pastern and tearing several ligaments, it was thought best that he stick to dressage.
In the fall of 2010, at the age of 22, Classic developed uveitis and glaucoma in both eyes. He lost the sight in his left eye but the right has been saved so far. He wears a fly mask at all times to protect his eyes.
Classic is the reason I decided to do the Century Club ride. He will never be mistaken for the Energizer Bunny, but he has patiently put up with my efforts to coax elderly bones and muscles to assume unfamiliar positions and has given me useful feedback. Our partnership is a work in progress.
Ann Yellott & Icastico, members #107
When Ann Yellott, currently 83, announced in 1935 at the age of six that she was changing her name to Cowboy Bob, it merely confirmed what everyone already knew, the kid was horse-crazy. And that has remained so. Never allowed to have a pony of her own as a child, she took every opportunity to ride anything and everything available. She took lessons in Montclair, New Jersey and then foxhunted while at Sweet Briar College. And somehow found horses to ride on various Marine Corps bases where she lived with her husband Ken. Raising two children and various bird dogs took precedence and her riding career was put on the back burner until the mid-70s when she got her first horse named George, a retired staff horse from the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club.
With George, and a series of other horses, Ann hunted with Green Spring Valley Hounds and evented all around Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania before turning strictly to dressage in the early 90s. She has been an active volunteer over the years for the Maryland Dressage Association, Maryland Combined Training Association and the Therapeutic Riding Program of Carroll County, as well as other organizations. She continues to train and show bird dogs and has won several obedience and field trials over the years.
Her most recent mount is an Andalusian named Icastico, nicknamed Ferdie after Munro Leaf’s iconic character in the children’s book Ferdinand the Bull. True to his name, Ferdie is a gentle soul and is completely devoted to his human dressage partner. Ferdie is 18, giving the pair a combined age of 101.
On May 26, the pair received a score of 60.645% riding First Level Test 3 at the Maryland Dressage Association’s Heavenly Waters recognized dressage show to join the Century Club. Thanks, Mom, for all the years we have spent together hunting, showing, eventing, hacking out, always living the dream. You are an inspiration to and loved by all who know you.
Marion Julier & Schaeferin, members #108
My wonderful ride was Schaeferin (“Shy”), a German-bred Hannovarian born July 2, 1982. Her sire, Salut, was a son of the renowned Hannovarian stallion Sender, out of a State Premium mare. She was imported to the U.S. as a two-year-old and is currently owned by Jane Seigler (Dressage at Sundown, Laytonsville, and Maryland Horse Council vice president). Jane purchased Shy as a seven-year-old with Training Level dressage experience and a big, effortless jump. Jane’s initial plan was to event Shy, but she scrapped that idea after Shy’s dressage talent began to shine through.
During the course of her career, the lion-hearted mare roared back after two separate surgeries on her left hock, each requiring almost a year off and having guarded prognoses. Jane let Shy tell her what she felt ready to do, and eventually was able to train and campaign her successfully through Prix St. Georges. A superb combination of sensitive and sensible, Shy has taught and continues to teach countless students the use of correct aids—as well as the fun tricks!
Jane remarked, “Shy is the most supple horse I have ever sat on, and although she is calm enough to hack out anywhere alone, and practically falls asleep in the cross ties, the intensity of her concentration on her rider and her desire to communicate and work with you palpably crackles with electricity whenever you sit in the saddle.”
Jane added, “The first time I ever sat on her, 23 years ago, I giggled with joy the whole time, and every ride over the years has brought me so much happiness. She is the horse of a lifetime, and I cherish every day with her.”
[Marion continues:] My fascination with riding came as a teenager. However, affording the cost of riding was a problem in the mid-fifties. With monetary help from my grandmother and giving math lessons to younger school pals, I could afford to ride every other week at a great facility in my home town of the quiet suburban northern section of West Berlin. Occasionally we competed on our school horses, mostly jumping. I loved it.
After I moved to Switzerland, got married and became a Swiss, I rode in Basel, where my instructor was a former rider of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. He even brought a couple of Lipizzaner stallions to Basel who did not qualify for the school’s purposes. At that time I only rode dressage. Before my ex-husband and I emigrated to Canada, I unsuccessfully tried to obtain my dressage permit (for the heck of it) to compete in Switzerland. My Arabian mare thought the white fencing around the dressage ring was something she needed to jump. I was not able to persuade her otherwise.
After settling in Toronto, Canada, I tried to find an English riding school but could only find Western-style riding, which was of no interest to me. And then I saw an article about fencing: success or lack of it was totally up to the competitor, not, as in equestrian, the quality or availability of a horse and all that goes with it. I got hooked on fencing. Because of my competitive successes I delved into the sport. Many, many competitions later, including as a member of the Canadian National Team competing in Turin, Italy and New York, I qualified for the pre-Olympics in Montreal in 1976. I did not make the team. Needless to say, that was a big disappointment.
With the birth of my daughter, my ambition to continue competing in fencing stopped. As a single mother I concentrated on her and on my career. Working for a Canadian Hotel Company, we traveled a lot [she accumulated over 30,000 air miles before the age of two]. Then I returned to hotel management. Eventually, I was given the opportunity to move to Denver, CO as the General Manager of a new Executive Conference Center and Hotel. A part of this property was also a PGA-rated golf course. Needless to say, I learned to play golf and then got bit by the golf bug: a love/hate relationship of a not-so-great golfer. During the winter months my daughter and I went skiing at many of the close-by Colorado ski resorts. This was something both she and I could do together.
Time passed, my daughter graduated from college, and I was transferred to Maryland to manage a shopping center. Then one day, I remembered the wonderful time I used to have while horseback riding. I also recalled reading that Virginia and Maryland were “horse country” so I researched and visited various riding schools until I found THE ONE. At this time of my life, dressage was the only thing that interested me—and I was more than 40 years older. At times we take little jumps and of course do ground work on cavalettis, but riding dressage is what I wanted now. I ride twice weekly, taking group lessons, which are what I can best afford. I love the friendliness of the riders and the staff, enjoy going to local tournaments to watch my instructors, or other riders of our stable.
Although my early teenage dreams of becoming a really good rider have vanished, I still want to ride well. Then, quite recently, my instructor talked about the Century Club. My instructor pointed out that the former owner of our riding stable has a 30-year Hannovarian and both suggested I apply to become a member of the Century Club. I am one of the few or maybe the only rider over 70 at our stable and this sounded like a great idea—and it is also a privilege to ride Shy. And so we did it! And what a pleasure and excitement that was. Horses and riding are still in my blood! I also love playing golf in a ladies’ league, but get annoyed when I play badly. However, a glass of beer will erase most of that annoyance.
Ami Howard & Olney Zoe, members #109
Zoe is the fifth generation of her family to be born at Olney Farm. Her predecessors were all draft horses, working the hay rake, the plow and the mowers. Since my husband was in medical school and our budget was tiny, I invested $50 in a stud fee for a Thoroughbred about three miles from the farm. Emmylou was ridden to the farm where the stallion stood. She produced Amanda, who was my first horse. Zoe was Amanda’s last baby when she was 27. Zoe is by the Trakehner stallion Zauberklang. She was eighth when shown in hand at Dressage at Devon out of 50 yearlings. She also won Best in Show at the Maryland Dressage Association’s Breed Show as a six-year-old.
I evented Zoe until her talent exceeded my expertise and I called on Gayle Molander, my coach, to take her over. She ended up U.S. Eventing Association Mare of the Year in 2000 and was headed for Fair Hill and Rolex when she fractured her knee on an Advanced course at Morven Park. The vet said she would be pasture sound. About three years ago, I watched her do an awesome extended trot across her pasture, and decided if she was sound doing that, then I would get on her. We just “putzed” around with trail rides and casual work for the next few years.
In May, I was talking to Ann Yellott and her daughter, fellow eventer Andie Yellott. Andie announced that her mother, still actively competing in dressage, was going to ride in a Century Club class. Of course, I had to ask, and was told that the age of the rider and the horse combined had to be 100 or more in order to become a member. Doing some speedy mental arithmetic, I said, “Zoe and I are over the mark! We could do it.”
Andie challenged me and pushed me to contact the Century Club and join. We did our ride here at Olney Farm, at a combined test dressage-only class, and won. I’m not sure Zoe was thrilled at returning to competition, but I had a blast! And I got a lovely gold and black ribbon and a very handsome plaque from the Century Club!
Nancy Isaacson & Halftone, members #132
The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club gives special recognition to horse and rider pairs whose combined ages total 100 years or more. With Nancy Isaacson’s induction into the club this past spring, there are now six Maryland riders who are members. Nancy, who is 74, hails from Middletown and completed the show requirement on May 11 with her Appaloosa Halftone, who was over 30 years old. Nancy and Halftone are the 132nd inductees into the club at the national level.
Nancy grew up in a riding family in New Hampshire and when she moved to Maryland in 1969, she took up dressage. Her first dressage lesson was with Col. Clarence Edmonds at the Potomac Horse Center. Nancy became an active member in the Potomac Valley Dressage Association as both a volunteer and competitor. Nancy was also a Pony Club District Commissioner and took up foxhunting.
Halftone was given to Nancy about six years ago after her own horse had passed away. He had foxhunting and cattle roping experience and she was told he also knew a little dressage. Nancy learned about the Century Club a few years ago and with Halftone decided to give it a try. Soon after the May 11 show, Halftone developed severe colic and had to be euthanized. Nancy said, “Even though he was 30, he still had a lot of energy and I will miss him.”
Jean Gore & High Design, members # 125
Jean Gore has been a longtime figure in the Maryland eventing scene both as a competitor and volunteer. This past fall, Jean became the 125th member of the USDF Century Club with 30-year-old High Design. The Century Club is for rider and horse teams whose combined age is 100 years or more. Here is Jean’s story in her own words.
I am 77 years old and have been active in combined training from 1970 to 2012. During the same time I have been on the Board of the Maryland Combined Training Association (MCTA) in Baltimore. Over the years I have ridden many horses, ten of them competitively, five at the Preliminary level. Currently, I am riding a daughter of my first Preliminary horse at the Novice level. They were all wonderful horses who gave me great experience and lots of fun.
High Design (aka H.D.) was one of my Prelim horses. Of the three disciplines (dressage, show jumping and cross country), she loved the cross-country courses the most. I still ride her four times a week. She is 30 years old now, but still a hot little Thoroughbred. She is bright-eyed, still quick off the leg, and always on a mission! She is my R&R horse.
Her former owner, Jessica Caie, took her from Novice to Advanced. H.D. is 15.1 hands and those fences are huge. At age 12, H.D. competed at the Fair Hill International CCI*** in Maryland and finished well, which is quite an accomplishment.
Now we basically just keep H.D. happy and entertained. She loves to be ridden, but just don’t pick up the reins unless you plan on doing something—right now!