Jeb Wofford rode at the selection trials for the 1955 Pan American Games and 1956 Olympics in 1954, even though he was still recovering from dysentery. A commentary by Alexander Mackay-Smith outlined the amazing events of the three days.
The Direction Of High Peformance
While the 1956 Olympic Games were hosted by Australia, quarantine regulations meant the equestrian events were held in Stockholm instead. A report from the Three Day Event at the 1956 Olympics, written by Lt.-Col. C.E.G. Hope, stated that, “The Americans are young and their horses are good, but they seem unorganized and unschooled. If they could obtain the services of a good European dressage instructor and work hard under him, they could produce a reasonable team. But for every country the lesson of the Olympics is that inefficiency does not pay—and is unfair to the horse.”
The less-than optimal showing from the U.S. contingency in 1956 (teams and individuals finished out of the medals in all three sports) inspired much discussion about the future direction of the U.S. Equestrian Team.
An editorial in the Sept. 28, 1956 issue highlighted those issues, stating, “Although the meeting fully recognized the importance of good coaching, primary emphasis was placed on broadening the base on which our teams rest. In the long run, we cannot expect to win Olympic medals by developing a handful of horses and riders.”
As of 1957, the USET was based out of Greenwich, Conn., at Alvin Untermyer’s estate. “The rooms are small, not fancy but quite comfortable. Here the team members and the coach, Capt. de Nemethy live,” stated the article. In 1958, a 20-year-old George Morris was already riding for the USET, along with Bill Steinkraus, Hugh Wiley and Frank Chapot.
There was also an editorial about how the USET could best seek funding and earn favor from other nations, sending our riders out into the world as the “best ambassadors” in turbulent times. Horsemanship was even offered as a sort of way to fight the spread of Communism.
A report from the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago revealed that dressage was still a work in progress for many countries.
“Only very few horses of the ten shown performed the Piaffe and Passage in an acceptable manner, if they performed them at all,” wrote Hermann Friedlaender in the Oct. 2, 1959 issue of the magazine.
Patricia Galvin from the U.S. won the individual gold with Rath Patrick.
“There was fairly general agreement after the ride-off that the performances of Rath Patrick under Patricia Galvin were the best. They were even and smooth and though devoid of any particular highlights the horse appeared in general to be at ease and showed a freshness that was pleasing,” wrote Friedlaender.