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I WAS 20 YEARS OLD when I went to train at the French Cavalry School in Saumur in 1957. Jack was 27 at the time and was already part of the Cadre Noir (the school’s famed display team.) It was the first year they allowed civilians to attend the school. We started out riding six horses a day, each for an hour and a quarter and all without stirrups. Later we progressed to nine horses a day, but with stirrups. We typically wore out our breeches on a monthly basis and wore our seats raw and bloody as well. But we learned to ride. One day, one of the “sateur” horses was brought out and put between the pillars, where he normally performed a variety of airs above the ground. Jack was in charge of us that day. There were 15 of us first-year students and each of us was expected to mount the horse and try to ride through his “airs.” Each one of us was launched into the air in short order and we all hit the ground hard. One student commented that no one could stay on this horse through such a performance. Jack gave him a long look, then immediately jumped on and had one of the boys really put that horse through his paces. Not only did he ride through everything, it was like watching a dream. His seat was so effortless that he truly became part of the horse. Some years later, at the Mexico Olympics in 1968, he pulled me aside to inquire about the eventing situation in the United States. He wondered if I thought there might be a position available for him, as he was concerned about the effect politics in his native France might have on eventing’s future there. I called Whitney Stone (then head of the USET) and let him know. Soon after Whitney and Jack met in France. Before long, Jack was coaching the U.S. eventing team. I have no bad memories of my time with Jack. You simply had to acknowledge who he was and how great he was. If you learned from that, and from him, you were simply a better rider. You could certainly be a good rider without him, but you would be a better rider with his help. Jack was a wonderful teacher who could explain and educate, but he was also a master at “doing it”—at getting on the horse and riding. That was truly his gift. I knew him as a competitor and a coach and he was truly a wonderful person. When he came to the United States, I believe we truly

had the right person in the right place at the right time. As one of my fellow competitors commented at Jack’s funeral, we on the team became an omelette that was far more than the sum of us as individual eggs. It was also an era when people were willing to accept that approach and accept his direction. Because people think differently today, I’m not sure we’ll have that again. I think he created something that can’t be duplicated today.

KAREN STIVES

“He never held a grudge or stayed disappointed when you couldn’t measure up that day.”

Karen rode her mother’s big grey gelding, Ben Arthur, to win the individual silver medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. A single rail down in show jumping cost her the individual gold, but the pair’s strong finish helped earn the team gold for the United States.

Karen was the USCTA Rider of Year in 1981, 1987, and

1988. She represented the U.S. in international three-day event competition on her Thoroughbred, The Saint, including the World Championships in Luhmuhlen in 1982. Following her retirement from international competition, Karen became an FEI judge and chair of the USET Three-Day Event Selectors’ Committee for many years. Today, she is retired from the horse industry.

NONE OF US EVER QUESTIONED what Jack said or even how he said it, even when we got the brunt of his humor. He had a way of embarrassing you in front of the other riders to get you to do what he needed. Then, after the stable doors shut for the night, he was our equal and completely relaxed. He never held a grudge or stayed disappointed when you couldn’t measure up that day. Jack would find wonderful ways to motivate each of

us. For example, I’m a big fan of champagne. At the Los Angeles Olympics, I had finished my warm up and was just walking around for a few minutes, feeling that Ben Arthur and I were well prepared and ready. Jack wondered aloud why I wasn’t still warming up, saying we could always get better. Then he bet me a case of champagne that I couldn’t beat the score we heard announced just then. It was his incentive to make me try just a little bit harder. I did it – and received a case of very good champagne! Jack taught us how to communicate with our horses.

On the rare occasions when he’d ride your horse, you’d see your horse transform into this absolutely magical creature. And you’d wonder, why can’t I do that? Jack always kept his French accent, even though he

lived here in the United States for many years. Sometimes he’d make mistakes. Once in Virginia, when we were getting ready to gallop across a field, he cautioned us to “be careful of the cattles.” Sometimes I think he made those mistakes on purpose!

JAMES WOFFORD

“It was a relief when he yelled for you to get off your horse so that he could ride.”

Jim was a member of the U.S. Equestrian Team’s three-day event squad for two decades, during which time he was named to three Olympic teams, winning two team silver and an individual silver medal and four national championships.

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