May 16, 2016
Sunday, May 6, 2012
May 16, 2016
I have written an article about safety in our sport, entitled "Lives in the Balance." The title is taken from a Jackson Browne song of the same name. You can find the article at: http://practicalhorsemanmag.com/article/jim-wofford-eventing-lives-balance-29236
I have been thinking about this for quite some time, and this article is the result of my thinking so far. Due to space/time considerations, I left out far more material than I included in that article. Another title I thought about for this article might have been "Horses like to jump, too."
One of the many questions I am attempting to raise with this article is to bring out the perennial question of just how much the rider should guide/interfere in the approach to fence. This argument has been going on for almost a century now, almost as soon as Federico Caprilli's revolutionary new " forward seat" was adopted.
Wilhelm Museler was one of the most widely respected practioners of the art during the middle 20th century. One might suppose that a German dressage master would be in favor of controlling the stride to the fence. Think again. Here is what he has to say about it: "With increased experience, routine and practice, a horse will automatically correct his approach."(RIDING LOGIC, 1949 edition, pg. 163) Not the sort of statement one would expect from a German dressage rider, but there it is. I must say that Müseler's experience and mine are one and the same.
When I first moved to the USET in the middle 60's, I had a difficult time adjusting to the USET 3DE training methods in use at the time. I had been brought up in the sort of system that Müseler recommended, and I was unable to ride in the way that our coach, Maj. Stephan von Visy, wanted. My very first cross-country school ever with Kilkenny was not going AT ALL well using this new technique. Gen. John T. Cole was watching that day. Gen. Cole had been the reserve on the 1932 Olympic show jumping team, when my father rode in Los Angeles, and our families had remained friends since then. Gen. Cole called me aside and delivered a pretty good ass-chewing, as only General officers in the Old Army could. I won't bore you with the details, which were many and various, but the gist of it was "Boy, leave the thinking to him, his head is bigger than yours!" That worked like a charm for me, and I made a career of it.
Another Old Army family friend was Gen. Frank Henry. Gen. Henry remains the only US rider to ever win Olympic medals in two different disciplines at the same Olympics. He won the GP Dressage silver team medal, team gold in Eventing, and individual silver in Eventing in the 1948 Olympics in London, England. My point is, the man knew how to ride. I asked him about "finding a distance" one afternoon, and he replied, "Oh, you mean ‘hand riding.’ Col. Chamberlin would never let us hand ride." He went on to tell me a story about how the Old Army resolved the argument. Sometime in the late 1920's, a group of Cavalry officers were gathered in front of the fireplace at the Officer's Club at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Ft. Riley was the U. S. Army Cavalry School, where all the troopers and officers were brought to receive instruction. All the Advanced Officer's classes were taught there, and it was the Olympic Equestrian training center. (That was the reason my father and mother bought Rimrock Farm, which was just outside the military reservation, to be close to their friends after my father retired.)
Apparently there was a fair amount of whiskey being passed around, and it did not take long for the same old argument about jumping to break out. The Colonel in charge suddenly pounded his fist on the table, and started issuing orders. The US Army would take 100 4-yo remounts that were just coming into service, and put them in a special six-month program. Fifty recruits that had just passed their Basic Equitation course would be assigned one horse each. In addition, ten experienced First Lieutenants and Captains would be assigned to the program, and given five remounts apiece to ride. The program would culminate in a jumping test.
The riders drew the horses out of a bowl, putting back any horse that they had ridden. The Col and two Majors were the judges while each horse went around a course at the old Hippodrome, just outside Ft. Riley proper. (The next time you see a photo of a U. S. Cavalry officer and there is a limestone formation running horizontally in the back ground, that was taken at the Hippodrome. The formation is called "the Rimrock" hence my family farm's name.) I asked him which group of horses scored better, the ones that had been ridden by skillful riders, or the ones that had been forced to survive with out help. "Well" said Gen Henry, "it wasn't even close." The best and safest horses were the ones that had been allowed to figure it out for themselves.
November 1, 2015
James C. (Jim) Wofford, 71, was born and raised on a horse farm in Milford, Kansas. He is a graduate of Culver Military Academy, and the School of Business at the University of Colorado (B.S. Bus. Admin. ’69). Wofford, a 3-time Olympian, has spent his life with horses, and is one of the best-known Eventing trainers in the world today. In 2000, Wofford was listed by the Chronicle of the Horse as one of the “50 Most Influential Horseman” of the 20th century, and in January of 2012, he was awarded the Jimmy A. Williams Trophy for Lifetime Achievement, horse sports’ highest honor. A Hall of Fame member of both the United States Eventing Association and Culver Military Academy, Wofford trains at his farm in Upperville, Va., and travels extensively, teaching and giving clinics.
Wofford has had at least one student on every U.S. Olympic, World Championship, and Pan-American team since 1978. All four members of the U.S. Bronze medal team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, including David O’Connor, the Individual Gold medal winner, were graduates of Wofford’s program. In addition, 3 out of the 4 members of the 2002 Gold Medal team at the World Equestrian Games were his former students. Kim Severson, the Individual Silver Medal winner at the Athens Olympics, and Gina Miles, the Individual Silver Medal winner at the Beijing Olympics, are both graduates of Wofford’s program.
He was named USOC Developmental Coach of the Year in both 1998 and 1999. He served as coach for the Canadian Team for the 2002 World Championships, for the Silver Medal Team at the 2003 Pan American Championships, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens. In 2007 Wofford was named a Fellow of the USEA Instructors Certification Program.
Widely sought after as a clinician and coach, Wofford is equally well known as an author. His first book, TRAINING THE 3-DAY EVENT HORSE AND RIDER, is now back in print after selling out the first print run, while his second book, GYMNASTICS: SYSTEMATIC TRAINING FOR JUMPING HORSES is out of print. A sequel, entitled MODERN GYMNASTICS, is now available. Three other books, TAKE A GOOD LOOK AROUND, 101 EVENTING TIPS, and CROSS-COUNTRY WITH JIM WOFFORD, are all widely available. In addition, he writes a monthly column for Practical Horseman, the largest monthly periodical in the U.S. dedicated to “English” riding.
Beginning with the 1972 Olympics, Wofford has served as the color commentator for many national and international broadcasts, and has worked for NBC, ABC, and PBS. He served as the color commentator for the 2006 NBC Rolex Championships, for the NBC coverage of both the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany and the 2010 World Championships in Lexington, Ky., and for numerous other horse-related television programs.
Wofford has maintained a lifelong involvement in the administration of his sport, both nationally and internationally. This continues a family tradition; his father was a founding member and the first President of the U.S. Equestrian team. He has served as president of the United States Equestrian Federation, 1st vice-president of the United States Equestrian Team, and Secretary of the U.S. Eventing Association. He served two terms as a member of the International Equestrian Federation’s Eventing Committee, including 4 years as Vice Chairman. In addition, he has served on numerous other committees during his career.
Wofford was a successful competitor until his retirement in 1986. He was on the 1968, 1972, and 1980 Olympic teams, winning two team Silver medals, and one individual Silver medal. He also competed in the 1970 and 1978 World championships, winning Bronze individual and team medals. He won the U.S. National championships five times, on five different horses, and won or placed at many competitions abroad between 1959 and 1986.
He has followed in the footsteps of his family as a competitor. His father, Col. John W. Wofford, was on the 1932 Olympic Show Jumping team, his oldest brother J.E.B., was on the 1952 Olympic Bronze medal 3-Day Event team, his sister-in law, Dawn Palethorpe Wofford, was on the British Olympic Show Jumping team in 1960, and his middle brother, Warren, was 1st reserve to both the U.S. Show Jumping and Eventing teams at the Olympics in 1956. His cousin, William Wofford, was a leading steeplechase rider, who won numerous steeplechase races, including The Virginia Gold Cup. Bill's horse, Ozymandias, was named Horse of the Year.
In addition to Jim’s eventing achievements, he was an active competitor in steeplechase races, rode in numerous horse shows, and fox hunted for over 30 years. Wofford and his wife of over 49 years, Gail W.Wofford ex-MFH, live at their farm in Upperville, VA. The Woffords have two daughters, Mrs. Timothy L. (Hillary) Jones, and Mrs. Charles K. (Jennifer) Ince, and 4 grandsons, James Walker Jones, Hudson Wofford Jones, Lewis Kitchell Ince, and Theodore Brown Ince. The entire family still rides. However, when the boys can sneak away, they go fishing as well.
Posted by Jennifer at 6:39 PM