Founder of the American Riding Instructors Association Receives Eighth Annual Equine Industry Vision Award
RELEASE: June 30, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Rebecca Pitcher
Pfizer Animal Health and American Horse Publications (AHP) presented Charlotte Brailey Kneeland with the eighth annual Equine Industry Vision Award at a ceremonial breakfast held during the AHP 2009 Free Rein in the Big Easy Seminar in New Orleans, LA. Established in 2002, the Equine Industry Vision Award was the first of its kind to showcase innovation and recognize ingenuity and service across the entire equine market.
Kneeland earned this honor for her vision to promote and certify riding instructors across the United States. Best known as the founder and director of the American Riding Instructors Association, Kneeland is a true leader who has set an exemplary standard in safety, good teaching practices and professionalism across the horse industry.
“Charlotte Kneeland is an outstanding example of the innovation, vision and leadership that the Equine Industry Vision Award serves to recognize,” said Kristin Ruff, Senior Marketing Manager at Pfizer Animal Health. “Her insight to start an organization for riding instructors has helped raise the bar in safety, education and integrity across all equestrian sports.”
Kneeland was born in Franklin, NH, on October 23, 1941, to Freeman Brailey and Grace Crossman Brailey. Grace was a legal secretary while Freeman worked full-time on the Boston and Maine Railroad as a diesel mechanic, and part-time as a New Hampshire state policeman and marine patrol officer. He also owned and operated Merrimack Bay Airpark, a grass landing strip and flying school where many people learned to fly after WWII. Charlotte also has two younger sisters, Janet and Joan.
It was Kneeland's father who first introduced her to horses. He would lift her up onto the back of her grandfather’s work horse, Babe, as she plowed the fields. It was also Freeman who bought Charlotte her first horse when she was about 10 years old.
“What a thrill—the most exciting day of my life!” said Charlotte.
Strong values and work ethic were introduced to Kneeland from very early on. Her mother instilled in her the confidence that she could be anything in world that she wanted to be if she just worked hard enough. Grace Brailey also stressed hard work in school, and to “always do a little more than what you have to.”
“My mother would often say, ‘If you’re feeling down, go out and do something nice for someone else,’ said Kneeland. “She was right—it always worked!”
As Kneeland grew older she couldn’t wait to start working and earning her own money. She sold greeting cards door-to-door when she was 11 and 12, and at 13, she got a job cleaning dog kennels. She rode her bike six miles each way to get there, and earned 25 cents per hour. Throughout high school, she worked at a drug store, a small supermarket and for the telephone company.
Kneeland attended the University of New Hampshire where she was an English major. She especially loved the school’s riding stable where she got her first real riding instruction. She worked several jobs during her freshmen year. By the end of that year, the school and Kneeland mutually decided that she would be better off out in the real world, putting some of her ideas to work.
One of Kneeland’s many part-time jobs in the early years was buying old saddles that had seen better days, and scrubbing at them for hours until they gleamed, and then reselling them for profit.
“One time a derelict side-saddle showed up,” said Kneeland. “After it was polished, I advertised it and was besieged by calls. Ah, I saw an opportunity! I started buying up more old side-saddles, re-selling them, and after finding a contact in Great Britain, starting importing them as well.”
Kneeland’s side-saddle business led her to realize that while lots of people were interested in this elegant, but passé style of riding, they didn’t have the knowledge to do it properly, and neither did she. She made