The so-called Court of Final Judgment at Chicago's 61st International Horse Show ended the big-time horse shows for this year. Unfortunately, many of the top equine stars ignored the summons to this grand finale, and a fine season ended on a very flat note.
There were some horses and some classes worthy of Chicago's past reputation but they were all too few and often were so badly scheduled that there was almost no one present to enjoy them. The Dodge Stables' brilliant harness show pony, Red Letter, W. C. Madlener's undefeated fine harness stallion, Colonel Boyle, and the Jayne brothers' jumpers provided the lustrous but rare highlights in a generally drab scene.
Strangely, the show was a financial success, drawing large and enthusiastic crowds. They came, however, not to see the horse show (except possibly on the last night) but the rodeo, which was held for the first time in conjunction with the show. It was a 10th-rate rodeo, but when it was over for the evening and the show continued, few stayed on to see what the rodeo was supposedly selling. Obviously, a horse show that needs a rodeo to promote it is in trouble.
"If all shows get like this," said one exhibitor glumly, "the only place you'll see a saddle horse 50 years from now will be in a zoo."
December 19, 1960
The show was also plagued by mishaps that resembled early Marx Brothers movies. A herd of calves from the rodeo would suddenly burst the gate and appear in the middle of a jumping class; a bucking bronco would escape from the chutes and cavort among the ladies' ponies.
The show lost much of its quality and almost all of its dignity, but at least the hunter and jumper divisions seemed on the upgrade. The jumper championship was won by a mare named Pocahontas owned by W. J. McGinley and ridden by Dorothy McLeod, who last year was the first woman ever to win a jumper championship in Madison Square Garden.
Toronto's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Horse Show, which preceded Chicago, unfortunately was not free of squabbles, as some of last year's rule mistakes were made again. However, it was, by and large, a very good show. Ironically, when Toronto was started, the Canadians used Chicago as their model, and now the student is outstripping the master.
Sweep for U.S.
The United States Equestrian Team made a clean sweep of the international jumping circuit by winning the championship. Their only embarrassing moment came in the puissance class. Hugh Wiley, on Ksar d'Esprit, was tied with Canada's Tom Gayford on Blue Beau, and the stone wall was up to seven feet. At this point Gayford conceded, and Wiley came in for his try, which, according to the rules, he had to make. The crowd booed, and someone shouted, "Are you trying to kill that horse?" Wiley was not—Ksar d'Esprit has jumped more than seven feet on many occasions. In fact, he was undefeated in puissance classes all this summer in Europe. But that night Ksar took some of the wooden blocks off the wall, and Wiley had to take jeers with his blue ribbon.
Toronto also saw the return of R. C. (Doc) Flanery, once a flamboyant figure in the show ring. Flanery has lost none of his razzle-dazzle ways, and after a sizzling drive Roy Calder's Royal Commander was once again the champion road horse of the Royal.