Tryon Fine Arts Center gallery presents “The Wright Stuff” Celebrating Tryon’s Olympic equestrian heritage

1956 Olympic Equestrian Team members Frank Chapot (left) and William Steinkraus with coach Bert DeNemethy (right).

1956 Olympic Equestrian Team members Frank Chapot (left) and William Steinkraus with coach Bert DeNemethy (right).

What better way to celebrate the 2016 Olympic year and Tryon’s equestrian history than to showcase the local story of the founding of the United States Olympic equestrian team? Tryon Fine Arts Center’s exhibits program tells the story of the 1956 Olympic equestrian team in Gallery I, opening Friday, May 13.

What most folks don’t know is that the team was born right here in Tryon. From the 1920s until 1949, the U.S. team was comprised of Army cavalry officers. Just as Gordon Wright, internationally noted horseman, took the cavalry training manual and “civilianized” it to create the first formal guide to teaching horsemanship, he oversaw the transition of the U.S. team from military to civilian.

Along with Ernst Mahler, Jackie and Bill Kuhn, Carter Brown and others, Wright saw Tryon, with its marvelous facilities and strong equestrian tradition, as the perfect location for Olympic team tryouts and training.

The Kuhns took a corn field on their property at the Cotton Patch farm in the Hunting Country and brought in an equestrian course designer to transform it into a stadium jumping course. The natural bowl configuration of the landscape lent itself perfectly to the purpose.

Tryouts and training for the three disciplines — dressage, stadium jumping, and cross-country (or “eventing”) — took place there, at Harmon Field and on area private property. Isabel Brannon Child remembers watching cross-country teams thundering across the DuCharme property and Brannon pastures off Warrior Drive.

Mark your calendars now to join us for the opening day of this fascinating exhibit on Friday, May 6. Or bring your Steeplechase guests by on Saturday morning before the races and let them see some extraordinary Tryon history.

A reception for the exhibit will take place on Friday, May 13 from 5-7 p.m. in the Mahler Room and Gallery I at TFAC. This event is free and open to the public. Call 828-859-8322 for more information or visit www.tryonarts.org.

 

– Submitted by Marianne Carruth

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