Welcome to the Rock Creek Horse Show. This five night annual Louisville classic, held in one of the most beautiful natural settings in the nation, is one of our community's most picturesque and entertaining events.
On any of these five nights you will be witnessing many of the nation's top novice, seasoned and World Champion caliber American Saddlebred horses and Hackney ponies. These, in turn, are exhibited by some of the finest and best known amateur and professional riders and drivers in the business. They have come from many states to vie not only for prizes but for the prestige of winning a ribbon here. A win or high placement at this show says: "This is a rider; this is a horse to be reckoned with." Is it any wonder, then, that the cometition remains so keen at Rock Creek as more take on the challenge to "try their horse" here?
But prize, prestige and honor are not the only reasons exhibitors van their horses many miles to compete at Rock Creek. They come because they like the friendliness of our community and the hospitality of the Rock Creek Riding Club in particular. The Club membership is nationally recognized among horsemen for its enthusiastic attentions to the comforts and needs of the exhibitors and their show stock.
Harold Morgeson, who served an unprecedented and consecutive 17 terms as Rock Creek's President, made a statement years ago that is still thought provoking today. He said: "The Rock Creek Horse Show, the Lexington Junior League Horse Show in July and the Kentucky State Fair World Championship Horse Show in August, are to the American Saddlebred Horse what the "Triple Crown": is to the thoroughbred.
The American Saddlebred Horse (originally referred to as the "Kentucky Saddler") is a true Kentucky creation and tradition. It is the result of careful selective breeding by our Kentucky pioneers. Their brilliant crossings of the Thoroughbred, Morgan, and Naragansett Pacers and Trotters provided the foundation for this truly distinct and unique breed we have known, since the 1800's, as the American Saddlebred Horse. This horse is a magnificently versatile athlete and the most beautiful horse in the world.
To learn more about this marvelous animal, so important to Kentucky's history and economy, visit the American Saddlebred Horse Museum at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
David O. Selznick, desiring authenticity in every aspect of his epic "Gone With The Wind", used the American Saddlebred as the breed most correct for the film. From Mr. O'Hara's plantation grey to little Bonnie's finely chiseled pony, American Saddlebreds played their part.
You, who attend our horse show as spectators, play a very important role as well. We appreciate your patronage. The doors of our private club are open to you during this event. Feel free to walk into our charming Victorian Clubhouse - believed to be over 150 years old. Take a stroll through the clubhouse. In one room is a large and charming tinted photograph of Rock Creek's first and long term (1929-1947) stable manager, Bayse Howell seated on a stump and regaling a small group of very young riding students. The names of those children of yesterday are familiar to most Louisville residents today. This remarkable picture is a photographic study of generation togetherness, and was a gift to the Club by the Rock Creek Junior membership in 1964. In the Club's museum room there is an enlarged aerial photograph of Rock Creek as it was many years ago when it was surrounded by potato fields as far as the camera eye could see. The Cllub grounds no longer encompass such acreage, but are nestled in suburbia with a park next door.
If, as a spectator, you are seeing this or any horse show for the first time, simply focus your attention on the thrilling sights and sounds of the show ring. Close your eyes for a moment and listen to the hoof beats, the announcer's pleasant voice and the organ music as it follows the gaits and speed of the competing horses. Open your eyes, and for the fun of it, pick out a horse or pony that you like. It will make the rider or driver feel great. Then, if the entry wins a good ribbon, you'll feel very proud of yourself. If it wins the class, you'll probably be hooked forever.
Tonight the old trees, the bright lights, the colorful tents, the concession stands, the children running to and fro, the pretty young girls and handsome young men in their tailored riding habits, the beautiful women dressing up the scene are all part and parcel of this picturesque event. So enjoy yourselves and lend your voices to the cheers of others as classes are tied, announcements are made and champions are crowned.
The founders and charter members could not have envisioned all this when they, on April 21, 1929, organized the Rock Creek Riding Club and elected Mrs. Henning Chambers (the mother of Warner Jones) as their first Club President.
Those early club members and their horses were, in large part, responsible for enticing scenic bridle paths through Cherokee and Seneca Parks. They were also a "wagering lot" with an uncanny desire to compete. And compete they did, in 1933, when the first Rock Creek Horse Show was staged but for the membership alone. By 1937 it became a two-day event open to the public, with other stables invited to compete as well. From these humble but important beginnings has emerged the superb, nationally recognized five day horse show that you are witnessing tonight.
The children of club members have their own Junior Club organized in 1935 by Jane Howell Fleming, riding instructor, and daughter of the club's first manager.
Tonight, if you are enjoying the horses, liking the people, feeling at home and looking forward to coming again, then you have become part of our Rock Creek Horse Show family.
What better moment than this, when Rock Creek is reaping the benefits of so many honors, to say: "Thanks you all, who in our past have brought us so honorably to the present."
Virginia Obrecht Dulworth (Mrs. E. V.)