September 16, 2015

The Inspiration of Top Riders

Sometimes accomplished equestrians conduct clinics; I have been fortunate enough to attend a few of these clinics with Olympic gold medalist Joe Fargis. Mr. Fargis is an American show jumping champion from Virginia. He participated in the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles where he won a gold medal in individual jumping with the Thoroughbred mare Touch Of Class - see it on video here:

In the 1988 Olympics held in Seoul, he finished second to win the silver medal while riding the Irish-bred mare Mill Pearl, a trip described by the commentator as “poetry in motion.” See it here:

When I asked Mr. Fargis about his Olympic experience, he said he never thought he would be in the Olympics and that it was more “just a reward for hard work.”

Joe Fargis book

One of my favorite pieces of horse memorabilia is
the Olympicard trading card Mr. Fargis signed for me. 

Mr. Fargis recently won the $5,000 welcome stake on July 19, 2012, at the Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic, and the $30,000 Duke Children's Benefit Grand Prix on November 9, 2013. On January 19, 2013, Mr. Fargis received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the US Equestrian Federation and you can hear his compelling acceptance speech here:

The clinic usually starts with flat work:

Holden riding 2

And then moves into work over fences:

Holden riding

Riding with Mr. Fargis is a great opportunity to learn how to improve yourself as a rider and horse person. Mr. Fargis emphasizes how important it is to “always put the horse first.”

Joe and Holden

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down and talk with Mr. Fargis after the clinic.
(photos courtesy of Holden Rafey)

Mr. Fargis mentioned his experience as a young rider at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) and how attending the show contributed to his success as an equestrian. Watching the top riders then like Kathy Kusner, Bobby Burke, and Rodney Jenkins was an inspiration for those of Mr. Fargis’ generation, like he is an idol to many equestrians now. Watching the top riders compete at WIHS is an amazing opportunity in addition to everything else WIHS has to offer.

According to its website, “The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is the leading metropolitan indoor equestrian event in the U.S. This championship event brings top horses and riders from around the nation and the world to the nation's capital each October, and is a highlight on the international equestrian calendar.” As a WIHS Youth Committee Member, I’ve been working on this year’s event, and there are also lots of fun things planned for young horse enthusiasts! I hope to see many Maryland riders in the arena, both as competitors and as spectators, and who knows, one of you may someday call yourself an Olympian.



My name is Holden Rafey and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information on topics of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and hope to see lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!




Photo credit:
All photos courtesy of Holden Rafey

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