My home town. What a privilege it was to be a kid learning the ropes in this atmosphere. My family moved to Hamilton in 1972 and they had no idea what they were about to get into. I pestered for a few years until finally my babysitter, (an angel on earth) Marie, took me for riding lessons at Flying Horse Stables. I was about 8. I wanted to be a cowboy. The saddle didn't have a horn and I pointed that out, but the instructor promised that jumping is way more fun. I wish I remembered her name. I was jumping immediately and I was hooked. My parents didn't have time to drive me to riding lessons at Flying Horse, so they made a deal with me. I could walk across the field and take riding lessons at Round About Farm. That little farm became my home for years to come, and the kids and trainers, whether they knew it or not, were my family and had great positive influence on me.
Some USA eventing history---
Neil Ayer became president of the USCTA (US Combined Training Association) in the early 1970s. Neil's friend, Jack LeGoff, was the coach of the USET 3-day squad, just a couple of miles away on Bridge Street, in So Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Neil and Helen Ayer had a farm in Hamilton, Massachusetts called Ledyard Farm, and while it was not a huge property, I think just under 100 acres, it was laid out like a wedding cake, in that there were three layers, one above another, so that Neil was able to create a big advanced track, where one horse might be galloping in one direction, and another horse and rider, on a higher or lower layer, galloping in the opposite direction, almost next to the other, neither pair aware of the other.
Another neighbor, Col. Frank Appleton, had a farm with a huge meadow, where a steeplechase track was built, and the Myopia fox hunt had a network of trails for roads and tracks between the two properties.
Neil and Jack knew that the USET was handicapped by not having access to the big international 3-day events of that era, Badminton and Burghley, so Neil personally paid to have a group of European riders and horses flown over to compete at three "Ledyard Internationals," in 1973, 1975, and 1977.
This exposure to competing against some of the best riders in the world gave the USET the boost that it needed, and the LeGoff teams won multiple medals during the 1970s, and into the 1980s.
This photo, from the event in 1977, is of a group of riders parading before show jumping on one of the Myopia Hunt Club polo fields. It was a huge joint venture---Few remember when that small area north of Boston was the epicenter of USA eventing.
(Front row, l to r, Denny Emerson on Victor Dakin, Mary Anne Tauskey on Marcus Aurelius, Mike Plumb on Good Mixture, Bruce Davidson on Irish Cap)