Oldest Horse Show in America Honors Barbaro Trainer Michael Matz and Others Recognized
RELEASE: June 7, 2007
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Vicki Bendure
In 1995, Michael Matz, who is most recently known for having trained the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, had another career. Matz was an extremely successful show jumper. After winning another Gold medal at the Pan American Games in Argentina, he returned to the United States, where he and his horse, Rhum IV, won the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (UCHS) Jumper Classic, one of the most prestigious awards in the U.S., which Matz had won three times in prior years. Rhum and Matz went on to place second in the 1996 Olympics, where the pair earned a Team Silver medal. Matz is the only rider to have won the Upperville Jumper Classic an unprecedented five times.
This year, the 154th Upperville Colt & Horse Show takes place on June 4-10, under the oaks at Grafton Farm in Upperville, VA. The show started in 1854 to encourage better breeding and treatment of horses but has grown into an event that brings more than 2,000 horse-and-rider combinations with riders coming in from around the world. It was the first true horse show in the country and was initially held to raise fund for the local volunteer fire department, which still benefits from the show along with other area charities.
Each year, the event recognizes outstanding individuals or horses that have contributed to the UCHS goals through participation, horsemanship, leadership or service. The Wall of Honor remains on display on the show grounds during the entire event. The wall itself has been made from oaks on the show grounds property. “This is our opportunity to recognize the many individuals and horses that have made this unique event so spectacular,” stated Tommy Jones, the show’s organizer.
This year, the Wall of Honor will include Michael Matz, as well as Bon Retour. The horse was shown at Upperville by Michael’s wife, D.D. Alexander (now D.D. Matz), in the Amateur Jumper divisions. He is the only horse to win the Upperville Jumper Classic more than once, first in 1984 and then five years later in 1989.
Howard Allen, a well-known photographer, put a face on the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in the 1950s and 60s. As a photographer, his photos were seen around the world in newspapers and magazines. Known as a famous Kennedy photographer, he was there to capture Freckles and Kathy Kusner setting the ladies high jumping record in 1958 at seven feet, three inches.
Betty Beryl Schenk was the stable rider for John S. Pettibone’s Homewood Stables. She won many championships aboard the fine hunters turned out by trainer Robert Kerns, but probably is best remembered as the rider of the great conformation horse, Duke of Paeonia. After her riding career, she returned to Upperville as a judge.
Jane Dillon brought many of her students from her “School of Equitation” in Vienna, VA, to compete at Upperville. Concentrating on the young riders on ponies and junior horses, she produced some top riders, including Kusner and Joe Fargis.
General George Patton, master of the nearby Cobbler Mountain Hunt, was a frequent exhibitor and supporter of Upperville. He often rode in the hunter classes and joined with General “Billy” Mitchell to compete in the team class.
In the late fifties Journey Proud was a horse to be reckoned with. Sent out by Mrs. Parker Poe’s Shawnee Farm, he won frequently in the green hunter as well as the working hunter division. Ridden by his trainer Garfield Harding, and in the ladies classes by Ellie Wood Keith Baxter he was champion at Upperville in 1957 and 1958.
Mrs. D. N. Lee was a Middleburg institution. In her later years she was known as a developer of fine young racehorses, breaking and training youngsters for some of the best-known stables in racing. Her early years, however, were spent showing and hunting, she won many championships at Upperville. One of her better known hunter horses was Broken Glass.
Broken Glass is also being inducted into this year’s Wall of Honor. He won at least one class in every y