Equestrian legend Kathy Kusner to lead clinics in valley this weekend | AspenTimes.com

Equestrian legend Kathy Kusner to lead clinics in valley this weekend

Tim Mutrie

Kathy Kusner, on Aberali, clears a 7-foot-2 wall in Aachen, Germany. Courtesy photo.

Three-time former Olympian Kathy Kusner, a pioneering legend in equestrian riding, is coming to the valley this weekend to lead a series of clinics at the Strang Ranch in Missouri Heights.Kusner, whose career has spanned athletic, legal and women’s rights arenas, will be working with advanced beginner, intermediate and advanced riders at the Strang Ranch. Louisa Davidson, a local artist/photographer and horsewoman who is organizing the event, hopes to attract eight riders for each of the three sessions planned each day, Saturday through Monday.Registration costs $100 per session, with scholarship opportunities for junior riders, though anyone interested in sitting in on a day’s session can audit it for $20. Davidson said if there’s enough interest, additional sessions may be added.

As a horseperson, Kusner falls into the niche of “hunt seat equitation,” Davidson explained. Her talents include standards like jumping and racing, as well as hybrids like steeplechase and timber racing.”I don’t think anyone of her stature in her discipline has ever graced us here in the valley,” said Davidson, who met Kusner while photographing a recent World Cup event in Las Vegas. “And her life goes way beyond horsemanship.”A longtime member of the United States Equestrian Team, Kusner went to three Olympic Games: Tokyo (1964), Mexico City (’68) and Munich (’72), where she won the silver medal. She also won medals at the Pan American Games: Gold in San Paulo (’63) and silver in Winnipeg (’67).

In 1968, Kusner mounted a successful legal case to become the first licensed female jockey in the U.S. And she went one to become the first licensed female jockey to ride races in Mexico, Germany, Columbia, Peru, Panama, South Africa and the former Rhodesia.Kusner is also the first woman to ride in the Maryland Hunt Cup, widely regarded as the toughest timber race in the world.Looking back at her career, Kusner once said, “When I was doing all of what I did back then, I never owned a horse. I rode a lot of rough, raggedy horses for professional dealers and caught a lot of rides. But for my personality, that was great. I loved it, the adventure of it all.”

Inducted to the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1990, Kusner has also worked as a course designer, writer, commentator and, of course, horse trainer. Her other interests include flying planes, like Lear Jets, and running – she has completed 97 marathons and 61 ultramarathons.Kusner also operates a nonprofit near her home in Los Angeles called Horses in the Hood, which works with inner-city kids to provide lessons and share the skills and values associated with caring for and riding horses.For more information about the Strang Ranch clinics with Kusner, call Davidson at 927-2512 or the Strang Ranch at 963-2319.Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is mutrie@aspentimes.com