Local Legends Honored at CHP
Several titans of Sandhills equestrian sport shed their usual barn attire and dressed to the nines for “An Evening With The Stars” at the Carolina Horse Park Oct. 27.
A capacity crowd was in attendance for the event, which was billed as an occasion “to honor equestrian legends both past and present.”
Patrons were served a dinner catered by Elliott’s on Linden in Pinehurst and enjoyed live music from local bands throughout the evening. Photographs from the CHP’s wall of fame illustrating the equestrian careers of its esteemed members were on display.
The wall of fame boasts 11 people and one horse on its roster. Horse park director Nick Ellis praised the wall as a one-of-a-kind exhibition in the area.
“Pinehurst is supposed to be a golf mecca, but there’s no equivalent hall of fame for golfers there,” he said. “Our wall of fame is unique.”
The four wall of famers in attendance — Moore County Hounds joint master Dick Webb, hunter jumper Patty Heuckeroth, eventer Mike Plumb and carriage driver Bill Long — came forward individually to be recognized and given a commemorative medal at the event.
Each told a personal anecdote or two about equestrian life in Southern Pines, inviting more than a few laughs from the audience.
“They were such interesting stories. The crowd really enjoyed them,” Ellis said.
Following the dinner, the recognitions and a slide show of photos, the crowd witnessed the unveiling of a statue next to the Horse Park’s main office of the famous Bold Minstrel, the only equine member of the wall of fame.
One of the best competition horses in the world during the 1950s and 1960s, Bold Minstrel was bred by the grandfather of Horse Park co-founder Lefreda Williams. He gave Bold Minstrel to her when the horse was just starting under saddle.
A teenage Williams showed him in smaller shows as a young horse. In 1956, she left Bold Minstrel in the very capable hands of U.S. Olympic event rider Billy Haggard.
During his competitive career Bold Minstrel was the partner of Haggard and champion riders Mike Plumb and William Steinkraus. An international success in both eventing and show jumping, he brought home medals from three Pan-American Games and one Olympic Games.
The horse’s versatility is virtually unparalleled in modern equestrian sport — he also earned national championships in the show hunter ring and excelled as a foxhunter.
One revered accomplishment of his was a record-setting performance in the Puissance high-jump class at the 1967 National Horse Show with Steinkraus aboard. A 7-foot 3-inch wall proved little challenge for the talented jumper.
The moment when Bold Minstrel cleared that improbable height is now preserved in life-sized statue form for competitors, spectators and volunteers at the Horse Park to view and enjoy for years to come.
“It’s a spectacular memorial,” Ellis said.
Ellis noted that “An Evening With The Stars” was the first time the living members of the wall of fame had been brought together. The event offered the ideal opportunity to recognize these professionals for all they have done for local horse sport, he said.
“These folks played a major role in making Southern Pines a desirable equestrian destination for all disciplines,” he said. “This was their permanent home, and they also brought students and clients to town, many of whom made their lives here.”
Ellis emphasized that people like Long, Webb, Heuckeroth and Plumb helped spur the growth of Southern Pines into the horse farm and competition mecca that it is today.
“Without their contributions to the horse community, I don’t think the Carolina Horse Park would exist,” he said.
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