The Century Club recognizes dressage riders and horses whose combined ages total 100 years or more. Horse and rider perform a test of any level at a show (schooling or recognized) or event, and are scored by a dressage judge or professional. Western Dressage riders are also welcome to join the Century Club.
About the Century Club
The Century Club was formed at The Dressage Foundation in 1996, at the suggestion of Max Gahwyler (CT), who with his horse Prinz Eugen, became team No. 2 in the Century Club. The first "Centurion Class" ride, held in 1996, featured Lazelle Knocke and her teammate Don Perignon.
Cicily (Sis) Harman
At age 78, I have enjoyed a lifetime with horses. We rode ponies with kids in the neighborhood and my own pony, Ike, when I was 11. I rode my boss's beautiful Saddlebred during college at King Tullis stable in Dayton, Ohio. I was a riding instructor at Camp Hilltop and Hillmanor during summers in upstate New York. Whipped in with the Miami Valley Hunt in my first years employed as an elementary art teacher. Judy Herbruck and I won a pair pace over 4 miles with jumps at Camargo hunt in Cincinnati.
I moved with my horses, Parson and Dr. Bob, to Boulder, Colorado in 1965. I managed Foothills Ranch, 27 horses and 500 acres, while attending the University of Northern Colorado and getting an MA in art education. I joined the Coxtail Riding Club with Col. Robbie L Robertson at the Broad moor Stables while teaching art in Colorado Springs. Robbie's riders won many of the hunter-jumper championships in Colorado. He schooled me over fences as high as 51611 and I sometimes found myself jumping off for time at 4'6" in open jumper. We had great mountain trails, and Col. Robertson took us to shows and foxhunting at Arapahoe Hunt in Littleton, Colorado.
I met my husband, Neil, who was the industrial arts teacher at the junior high school where I taught art. Our daughter, Leah, was my riding companion into high school. We moved south to Florence to an eight and one-half acre horse property and I rode dressage with the Penrose English Riding Club. I had several horses, rode a lot of mountain trails and had a few different dressage instructors. I rode my horse, Bright Eyes, at age 23 second level in a dressage show. Shania came to me as a 14 hand sevenyear-old unbroke Arab. Since she had herd bound issues, she had to come along ponied on all our mountain rides. Because of a hip replacement, I sent her to a trainer, Janice Bate, for riding. Janice called me in a week and said, "Come get her. All she needed was riding. I wish they were all like her." I rode her on trails, in dressage shows and clinics, and showing quadrilles.
Finally in my ?O's, I started riding with Nancy Hazlewood, owner of the Dressage Academy in Penrose. She teaches the art of classical riding in lightness with the proper biomechanics of the horse. We changed Shania's high headset and conformation, and I finally felt what a horse carrying themselves should feel like. Shania is a perfect old lady horse that has stayed sound and never had shoes. Last year she was diagnosed with Cushing's but is doing fine.
I rode Shania for the Century ride in training level three in the Arkansas Valley Dressage Association (AVDA) show on June 9th. It was close to 100 degrees with strong winds. She surprised me with spooking and not going forward, but I got her around. It was great fun with old and new riding friends in attendance to enjoy sandwiches and cake together.
Virginia “Ginny” Wegener, 95, rode down centerline at the Arkansas Valley Dressage Association October Riverwalk Schooling Show (Colorado) on Oct. 6, on the back of a 27-year-old Norwegian Fjord mare named Solveig. That test earned Wegener her third entry in The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club, which recognizes horse-and-rider pairs whose combined age reaches over 100 years old.
Wegener first joined the club with her Arabian gelding MHR Handsome. She took “Sam” on her first century ride in 2002, then recorded her second trip in 2010 aboard her Fjord Loki. Her recent ride on Solveig was one of more than 300 The Dressage Foundation has recorded since the program’s debut in 1996.
Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, Wegener grew up loving horses. She rode at a local stable, but her family was never wealthy enough to fulfill her dreams of owning a horse.
“The riding stable used to let me take the horse I rode a lot home for the weekends,” Wegener said. “That was as close as I got. Then I had to leave the horses behind when I got married, started a career and had three kids.”
That career was as a pilot and flight teacher. Wegener’s ex-husband sold airplanes and encouraged her to learn to fly.
“So I did,” Wegener said with a laugh. She taught flying for many years to countless students, including each of her three children. She and her eldest daughter, Carol Johnson, competed in the Powder Puff Derby, an annual women’s transcontinental flying race.
“I always liked flying, and I enjoyed teaching a lot,” Wegener said. “Every time I get on a plane I check to see who’s piloting because I may have taught them!”
Wegener reconnected with horses when her children were old enough to start riding. They owned horses on their property in Santa Rosa, California, and the children competed in local shows.
“I did a lot of taking the kids to horse shows; it was pretty much English riding and dressage in that area,” Wegener said. “One of them started off doing gymkhana on a little palomino, then she kind of came to dressage too. It was just what the kids around us were doing. I have a granddaughter now who also rides, so the horses have carried on throughout several generations.”
Wegener’s children grew up and got married; their childhood horses were sold, and Wegener felt the horse bug itching again. She purchased Sam and started riding at the age of 58. She moved to Colorado, where she met trainer Taffy Plaisted of Echo Valley Training Center. Plaisted solidified Wegener’s basics, then encouraged her to try the century rides.
“When we were planning this last one, Ginny said, ‘I want to ride the third level, test 1!’ ” Plaisted said. “She wanted to show people what she could do. But that’s an eight-minute test! I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t hear it, so I started reading the test for her one day, and she made a great effort but wore herself out pretty quick. I convinced her that doing a clean training level test was a better idea.”
Plaisted was the barn manager at the breeding farm where Solveig and Loki were born. On the day he arrived, Loki escaped and ran two miles in the snow before Plaisted was able to catch him. She slung him over his dam’s back and rode home, unsure if he would survive the night.
“I called the vet out, and the vet said, ‘This horse will never have leg problems. He’ll grow up to be very strong,’ ” Plaisted said. “And he’s 22 now and has never had a lameness issue.
“Ginny saw Loki as a colt and just fell in love with him,” added Plaisted. “By the time he was 3 Ginny decided she wanted to own him.”
Solveig, who trained to Prix St. Georges with Plaisted, broke her leg 10 years ago after falling into a badger hole. Veterinarians recommend putting her down, but Plaisted gave her the chance to recover. When Wegener decided to aim for a third century ride, Solveig was the obvious choice, but they only had a few practice rides before their show ring debut.
“She was a little nervous because Solveig is much bigger than Loki,” Plaisted said. “But I said, ‘I trained you both, so the signals are exactly the same.’ And they did a great job. Ginny actually dropped her stirrup at one point, but she didn’t let that rattle her.”
Wegener tries never to miss her weekly lesson with Plaisted, and she also takes the opportunity to watch her trainer in action when she makes weekend trips to teach lessons in Canon City, where Wegener lives. Wegener finds a comfortable seat in the shade and watches Plaisted teach for hours. A few days after Wegener completed her century ride with Solveig, she underwent a knee replacement. She’s taking some time out of the saddle to recover but plans to ride again as soon as she’s able.
“We’re thinking the first of the year will be her first real ride back,” Plaisted said. “Even at 22, Loki can still throw in a buck here and there. Ginny is such an awesome person. She’s an inspiration.”