High Hopes and Jim Fisher.
The show scene was rich and varied. Karl Hart remembers that nearly all of the shows were held in outside arenas; the only one indoors was an elegant all-breed affair held at Coconut Grove’s Dinner Key Auditorium, a society event that benefited charity. In cold months, Florida’s all-breed Sunshine Circuit beckoned. “We went to Gainesville, Fla., several times,” Ann Stover says, “and there were two shows in Miami at Tropical Park. Then we came to the Thanksgiving Show, which was held in several places in the early to mid1960s—Orlando, Tampa, Winter Haven. We’d be home for Christmas and pull the horses’ shoes, and we’d start back in the spring. “We all showed together,” she says, “Arabians, Saddlebreds, Morgans—it was such fun. You got to meet people from other breeds and see their beautiful horses, and you could sit and watch them train. I think if a lot of the little shows that are suffering so badly now, could get together with another breed, perhaps it would help.” Jean Blackstone remembers the Thanksgiving Show as a “big pilgrimage everybody made.” She laughs that her daughter once embarrassed her thoroughly over it. “Lisa was quoted in an article that for years she had Thanksgiving dinner at Howard Johnson’s,” Blackstone says, “but we had turkey on the grounds too. The club there—Kay Spitzer, Fran Lee, Willis Flick and others— provided it. There was such camaraderie.”
She recalls another example of the mutual support that was routine in that era. At one show, she says, she had scheduled a luncheon away from the facility on a day she had a class, and when she got back to the show grounds, Edith Rosenberg was waving at her and shouting that a class before hers had cancelled. Hers was about to go in. “She had all my clothes out,” Blackstone remembers. “My friends had groomed, saddled and bridled my horse, and all I had to do was get my clothes on and go into the ring. That was commonplace. We all looked out for each other.” No matter how exciting the social whirl, the horses came first. “I remember a show at Stone Mountain,” Blackstone says. “We always had a big party, a dinner dance, where we’d all get dressed up. That year a big storm came up, and LaDonna Monroe (a beautiful horsewoman!) suddenly said, ‘I’ve got to go to the show grounds! My horse is standing in his stalls with leg wraps on!’ Everybody, all dressed up, ran to the show grounds to rescue horses.” As it turned out, the drainage at Stone Mountain was so poor that there had been a flood, complete with a lot of mud, so the overdressed owners were kept pretty busy. But no one complained. “When Lee Caldwell left, he said, ‘There’s a $100 Persian rug in that tack stall if somebody wants to dig it out!’ … That party was sure forgotten.” Talk to those from the era, and the names of people and horses from the 1960s and 1970s fly fast. In Florida, among others, Rafflingle Arabians, Willis Flick, DLK
Volume 45, No. 2 | 79
July 2014 issue