Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gigi Inducted Into Equestrian Hall of Fame at Stoneleigh Burnham!!

On September 27th, I had the great honor of being inducted into my high school alma mater's, Equestrian Hall of Fame at the Stoneleigh Burnham School in Greenfield, Mass.  Of course, our first stop on campus was the barn where we were greeted by the current Director of Riding, Mina Payne (a classmate of my sister Ricki's at Stoneleigh) and shown to the "Wall".

With my niece, Michele, Charlotte and my sister, Ricki
My introduction to the following panel discussion included the premier of 'A Fork in the Road', the moving mini-documentary about my equestrian career. (Very well-received with a few tears and a standing ovation!)   Great questions ensued from the students and faculty, regarding: one's favorite school horse, balancing college level academics with sport and goals before retirement. I told them that I had no intention of retiring and would be riding off into the sunset....

Before we set off for cocktails, my family surprised me with a lovely portrait given by an old family friend and superb equine artist, Susan Sponenberg!

Cocktails and a surprisingly (not what I expected after four years of boarding school "cuisine") delicious dinner were followed by the award ceremony itself.

My tribute, delivered by the current Headmistress, Sally Mixsell, had my brother (a retired Chief of Police) in tears. Stoneleigh Burnham was very important to my mother, a 1946 graduate and a long time member of the board of directors, and Sally's heartfelt comments regarding my family's close ties to the school and my equestrian experience just overwhelmed him.

My "back to my roots" weekend continued with a quick visit to May and Denny Emerson in Strafford, VT.  Susan McLean and I spent a beautiful afternoon talking to May and Mimi Leslie and watching Denny ride and teach.  I worked for the Emerson's for seven summers when I was in high school and college, including 1974 and 1976 when Denny won a team Gold Medal at the World Championships at Burghley and was an alternate for the Bromont Olympic team.

In a fitting commemoration of the weekend, I asked Denny to autograph my copy of "How Good Riders get Good". His sage advice on becoming a  successful International competitor certainly worked for me....twice!

Once again, I marvel at the good fortune I have enjoyed in my life! Thanks, again, to all of you, my family, friends, teachers and supporters who have made it all possible!

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