Students, alumnae, and friends gathered on October 24 for the dedication of two wonderful gifts to the Riding Program from alumnae who took their feelings of love for Oldfields and turned them into action.
The Lana duPont Wright ’57 Riding Arena
The Lana duPont Wright ’57 Riding Arena was spearheaded by a challenge gift from a classmate who has long felt Lana should be honored on the Oldfields campus. Not only was Lana an inspiration to her fellow riders as a student, but was also the first woman ever allowed to compete in the Olympics Three-Day Eventing. She won a team silver medal, along with her male teammates, at a time when when eventing was considered too strenuous for “the fairer sex.” Lana made history and paved the way for all the female eventers who have followed her.
Lana rode in her first event when she was a student at Oldfields. She was allowed to ride through the countryside, accompanied only by Stephanie Strubing Flinn ’57, to get to the Pony Club event in Monkton, MD, a trek of at least five miles. “I think I was one of the few who got around the cross-country without going off-course. So I ended up winning it,” Lana says with a laugh.
There the seed was planted, and in 1964 she was in Tokyo competing at the Olympics in slick footing and heavy rains on her horse, Mr. Wister. “When we finished, we were a collection of bruises, broken bones, and mud. Anyway, we proved that a woman could get around an Olympic cross-country course, and nobody could have said that we looked feminine at the finish.”
Lana later medaled in the 1991 Pairs World Driving Championships as well as in endurance riding, was a founding member of the U.S. Combined Training Association, now the US Eventing Association and helped build the local Fair Hill International Three-Day Event into one of only two five-star events in the country. She is a passionate supporter of the US Pony Club, particularly the Middletown Pony Club, whose horse trials she hosts every year at her Unicorn Farm. She was honored by The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) as the winner of the 2015 USEF Lifetime Achievement Award.
The new arena named for Lana has been expanded in size to 90’ x 220’ as a multi-use arena which can accommodate a regulation dressage arena, jumper and hunter courses, clinics, competitions, and lessons. In the arena, state-of-the-art GGT footing provides a long lasting, high quality, and safe riding surface. It is a wonderful addition to the program as well as a fitting tribute to the first eventer at Oldfields School.
The Anna Austen McCulloch Barn
When Emily Ford Embrey ’76 was at Oldfields, the barn was her haven, a place that has a prominent place in Emily’s heart to this day. Her time spent at the barn was when she “refilled her bucket” each day. “Being able to ride for four years at Oldfields was such a joy to me! I always felt so excited to head for the barn after classes.”
Emily stays in close contact with Director of Riding Amy Phillips, so when she learned of the project to build an addition to the barn which would echo the style of the original barn while providing more stall space and an area to store hay, equipment, and a place for the riders to meet, she and her mother, Clare Glassell P’76 stepped right up to make the lead gifts to fund the construction.
A lot of thought was put into Emily’s choice to name the barn. After considering several options, Emily’s wish was to name the barn for Anna Austen McCulloch, the founder of the School. While we all know the name of Anna Austen McCulloch, this is the first physical space to be named in her honor at Oldfields, an accolade well-deserved.
The new barn addition was designed by Faith Nevins, wife of former Board Chair John Hawks, who worked closely with Amy Phillips not only to retain the look and feel of the original barn, but also to make sure the new building would be just what the Riding Program needed.
Emily is fondly thought of as the fairy godmother of the barn. Yes, she made it possible for the Anna Austen McCulloch barn to be built, but did you know she also funded the re-painting of the original barn and contributed to the purchase of the new truck for the Riding Program? Emily has always said her priority is the Oldfields barn, and she has more than proved that to be true!
- US Eventing Association
- United States Equestrian Federation (USEF)