April 6, 2009 — The Show Jumping Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony at the Budweiser American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on April 4. Honored with induction were Dr. John Steele and the horses Abdullah, Miss Budweiser and Riviera Wonder.
Induction into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame is bestowed annually upon select individuals whose contributions to the sport have set them apart from others and whose influence has had a significant impact on the world of show jumping. The election committee is comprised of the nation’s top riders, trainers and officials.
The new inductees join the previous 61 inductees enshrined into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.
Dr. John Steele
Dr. John Steele, DVM, has been responsible for the care of some of this country’s top show jumping horses, including Authentic, Gem Twist and Eros. Following his graduation from Cornell University, Dr. Steele developed a very successful practice specializing in Standardbred race horses which he maintained from 1965-1985. In 1985, John and Beezie Madden and Michelle Grubb, aware of his reputation with Standardbreds, recruited Dr. Steele to evaluate some of their most prized show jumping horses. From there, Dr. Steele’s career on the show jumping circuit exploded and quickly began to encompass some of the biggest names in the sport.
Dr. Steele has cared for horses at some of the nation’s most prestigious horse shows. He has also gone with clients to such international events as Spruce Meadows in Canada to perform pre-purchase veterinary exams. He has had an impact on the heath of some of the country’s most important equine athletes, whose success can be attributed, at least in part, to Dr. Steele’s work.
Abdullah was one of the most successful horses the show jumping world has ever seen. His illustrious career was highlighted by his standout performances at the 1984 Olympic Games, 1985 World Cup Final and 1986 World Championships.
Abdullah was purchased by Terry and Sue Williams as a three-year-old stallion as an event and breeding prospect. The striking grey Trakehner soon showed his propensity for show jumping after a successful dressage and eventing career.
Abdullah embarked on a show jumping career that saw him carry riders Conrad Homfeld, Joe Fargis and Debbie Shaffner to great grand prix success, three World Cup Finals, and spots on U.S. teams at CSIOs in Europe. However, it was with Homfeld in the irons that he put together his incredible three-year stretch that ranks among show jumping’s most memorable.
Homfeld rode Abdullah to a clear round in the team competition at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games to help the United States clinch its first-ever team gold medal. The pair also won the silver medal in the individual competition. In 1985, Abdullah and Homfeld finished first at the FEI World Cup Final in Berlin. In 1986 they helped the U.S. win another team gold medal at the World Championships in Aachen. The pair served as the anchor for the team, and Abdullah was named Leading Horse of the competition, with Homfeld adding another individual silver medal.
Circus Rose/Miss Budweiser
The most brilliant open jumper of the immediate post-World War II era was undoubtedly Circus Rose, a 16.2-hand gray mare by Great War (by Man O’ War) out of Winter Rose (by Endeavor II).
In 1950, when she was owned by W.W. Schlusemeyer and ridden by Joe Green, she chalked up one of the most remarkable records ever amassed by a five-year-old, with 18 championships and 84 blue ribbons at 27 shows, topped off by the Jumper Championship at “The Garden”, New York’s National Horse Show. Following this performance she was sold to August A. Busch, Jr. for a then-record price, and renamed Miss Budweiser.
Miss Budweiser was earmarked for Carol Durand to ride in the 1951 Olympic Trials, but the FEI declined to revise its rules and permit women to ride in show jumping at the 1952 Games at Helsinki. “Miss Bud” was turned over to U.S. team captain Arthur McCashin to ride. Before the Games, this pair collaborated in a victory in the Preis St. Georg at Dusseldorf. Then at Helsinki they placed 12th individually and helped the U.S. win its first team medal, a bronze.
Following the Olympics, Miss Budweiser was returned to the Busch family’s Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, Mo. With Bob Egan in the irons, she campaigned with conspicuous success throughout the Midwest, retiring the Jumper Championship trophies at such shows as Oak Brook and Lake Forest, in addition to many other victories, before her eventual retirement.
Early in the 1950s, Virginia horsewoman Liz Whitney happened to dock her boat during the Long Island shows at a restaurant/marina complex called the Riviera, owned by a former jazz trumpeter, Bernie Mann. When Whitney mentioned to Mann that she was going to sell a colt by her famous jumping sire, Bonne Nuit, out of Winter Rose, the dam of Miss Budweiser, she didn’t have to say it twice, and shortly thereafter “Wonder” joined the Mann jumper string.
Whatever the price may have been, the horse was a bargain. Wonder lived up to his name by going on to compile a record of consistent brilliance under the old “touch” rules that has never been matched, and proved that he could beat the best competition Europe had to offer.
As a four-year-old in 1955, the 16.3-hand gray gelding, ridden by Al Fiore, carried off his first National Horse Show Open Jumper title. To prove that it was no fluke, the pair did it again in 1956 and 1957 and retired the coveted Waldorf Astoria trophy. In 1959, Wonder was loaned to the U.S. Equestrian Team and ridden by Bill Steinkraus. They promptly helped the team win the Pan American team gold in Chicago. Accompanying the team to Europe, Steinkraus startled the world by winning the International Jumping Championship of Germany at Aachen, beating the best horses in Europe in the process, and anchored the winning U.S. Nations’ Cup team at London. The following year he won the Grand Prix of Wiesbaden and competitions at Lucerne and London, where he also anchored winning Nations’ Cup teams. Physical problems may have affected his performance in the Rome Olympics, where he finished only 15th in the individual competition and did not start in the team event.
Returned to Mann after the Olympics, Wonder took up right where he’d left off, winning the National Horse Show Jumper Stake and the Championship for a record fourth time, and going on to win many more competitions.
The Show Jumping Hall of Fame and Museum was established in 1987 and formally opened in 1989. It was organized to promote the sport of show jumping and to immortalize the legends of the men, women and horses who have made great contributions to the sport. For more information about the Show Jumping Hall of Fame visit www.showjumpinghalloffame.net.