Trader's Point Hunters Return to the Grass Ring at the 37th Annual Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show
Founder Mrs. Johnson Shares Memories
Zionsville, IN – August 5, 2014 – The 37th Annual Traders Point Hunt Charity Horse Show began today at Mrs. Sylvester Johnson’s Wild Air Farm with Conformation Hunters returning to the grass ring and the hostess herself taking a front row seat.
Mrs. Johnson, 86, has fond memories of riding in the show herself with her famous hunters Super Flash and Fun and Games. Her face lights up when she talks about her beloved horses.
“I loved Super Flash and Fun and Games,” said Mrs. Johnson. “When I was showing Super Flash he felt like he had wings. He would just fly over the jumps. But he wouldn’t hunt. He didn’t like the hounds. I took him hunting once and I thought if I make I through this hunt alive I’ll never make him do it again.”
This photo of Super Flash with Charlie Weaver hangs in the tower at the show.
“I remember when I first saw Super Flash at Upperville. I was showing Fun and Games. I saw the horse go, Rodney Jenkins was riding showing him and I told Kenny Wheeler I wanted the horse. Well, he was champion so the price went up but I wanted him anyway. He was so unusual how he moved. He just didn’t like the hounds!” laughed Mrs. Johnson.
Super Flash was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame in 2012 and Mrs. Johnson was present to accept the award. She rode the horse to numerous championships at major horse shows in the country including Upperville, Devon and the Garden in the Amateur Owner Division. Charlie Weaver rode the horse in the Regular Working Hunters for Johnson in the 70’s.
Mrs. Johnson was the Traders Point Hunt Master of Fox Hounds in the 80’s.
“I was fearless!” stated Johnson. “Anything that had four legs I would get on and try to hunt.”
Founder Mrs. Sylvester Johnson, Jr.
Mrs. Johnson and her husband Sylvester Johnson, Jr., moved to Zionsville from Indianapolis in 1948 and pieced plots of land together bit by bit. They called it Wild Air Farms, in honor of Sylvester’s grandmother’s land in California.
When the horse show began in 1977, it was only three days long and hosted 200 horses. Today, the show is six days and hosts 800-1,000 horses and thousands of spectators from the community come for the horse show and the country fair.
The old Trader's Point Show grounds with two rings.
The horse show started with one ring and was only for hunters for the first three years. They made the adjoining corn field into another ring to start jumpers. Now they have four rings, two Grand Prixs and have raised thousands of dollars for various charities with the Riley Children’s foundation as the beneficiary for the last six years.
“It’s a great charity,” said Johnson. “The funds help all those children that need operations.”
Many great riders have shown in that original grass ring like Charlie Weaver, Rodney Jenkins, Olin Armstrong, Don Stewart and Linda Hough. Olympians Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, McClain Ward, Debbie Stephens, Chris Kappler, Charlie Jayne and Margie Engle have shown in the Grand Prixs in that ring as well.
Caroline Weeden and Cucinelli were one of the conformations hunters showing in the grass ring.
“I’ve been fighting to get the hunters back in this ring,” said Johnson. “Most spectators don’t understand the beautiful hunters but I just love them.”
Hunter riders honored Mrs. Johnson’s presence at the ring today with a special victory gallop up the hill to say thank you to the horse show founder in person.
You can see her passion for horses in the sound of her voice and the glimmer in her eye. She has a real pride in her horse show and her property.
“I hope everyone enjoys riding around the paths and across country when they’re not showing,” added Johnson. “I remember when George Morris was here judging. He said it was a beautiful show and I took him around the property in my golf cart.”
Mrs. Johnson’s life has been about horses. She reminisced as she watched the Green Conformation Hunters and Performance Hunters 3’6” jump around the historic ring.
“I remember for five years I showed horses in Florida. I would hunt on Wednesdays and take a plane to Florida for to show Friday and Saturday and fly back to hunt the hounds on Sundays. I showed with Debbie Stephens, I was very young then but it was fun.”
“The last year I showed at the Garden I was Amateur Owner Hunter Reserve Champion. When I first showed there it was the old Garden next to central park. They didn’t have an amateur division; I rode in the regular working 4’ hunters and thought nothing of it. I had a horse named Marvey, he was a thoroughbred. I won first, second and third and my picture was in the New York Times as this lady from Zionsville, IN was winning at Madison Square Garden,” smiled Johnson.
It seems everyone you talk to has a great memory and a story to tell from Trader’s Point. Many have been raised from the lead line in the famous ring to the Grand Prix or Hunter Classic victory gallops. I know I have fond memories of my son with young Bobbie Kraut doing the lead line and the dog show as well as blue ribbons won and signed by famous equestrians who have ridden and judged there. Today I can add the privilege of having a conversation with an avid horse person, Mrs. Johnson, about her show and her horses.
The show runs August 5-10, 2014 and features the $75,000 Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the $35,000 Mr. & Mrs. Russell Fortune Jr. Memorial Grand Prix. For the hunters there is a $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and a $5,000 Nutrena USHJA National Hunter Derby. You can bet Mrs. Johnson will be sitting in the front row at the top of the hill watching it all.
Stadium Jumping Inc. manages the show and proceeds benefit the Riley Children’s Foundation. For more information and schedule please visit www.traderspoint.org.
Photos may only be used in relation to this release