Each week on #HallOfFameThursday, Horse Network recognizes members of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame with an inductee’s plaque, historical photos and, on the first Thursday of every month, an article written by a Show Jumping Hall of Famer. This week, we recognize owner Fran Steinwedell with a tribute written by her fellow Show Jumping Hall of Fame Class of 2016 alumna, Anne Kursinski.
Fran Steinwedell has been an incredible owner and supporter of hunters, jumpers and our sport in the U.S. I have been blessed to have had her as one of my longest and very best owners and friends!
Fran was an outstanding rider herself. She won amateur hunter and jumper classes and championships. She owned top horses in every hunter and jumper division including horses on the U.S. Olympic Team several times.
Fran, like her father Carlton Blunt and sister Carlene Blunt, has always been a true sportswoman. Her sense of being a good sport and of whatever was best for the horse at the time always came first and foremost. She has been a huge supporter of the USET. She loaned horses to U.S. teams and gave her share of donations throughout the years, always having a passion for and helping the USET.
Fran has been an integral part of my career and successes. I have known her since I was four years old. Her daughter Francie and I were childhood best friends. I rode some horses for her in my junior years. When I began following my Olympic dreams, Fran was right there. She helped me put together a syndicate to buy my first Olympic horse, Livius. He put me on the international map.
Fran was a pillar of support and inspiration through my ups and downs in the sport. She believed in me emotionally and financially, giving me confidence that I could achieve my lofty dreams. Livius and I went on to win The Grand Prix of Rome in 1983, double gold medals at the ‘83 Pan Am Games and were the alternate for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Fran always had a big vision and played the long game. Without her never-ending support and belief in me, my horses and my goals, I would not have achieved international success.
After Los Angeles, I found an unknown stallion, Starman, whom I felt could develop into an Olympic horse. Once again Fran trusted me and backed me, buying Starman fully herself. We had such a wonderful journey with him, winning on U.S. Nations Cup teams all over the world, winning the Grand Prix of Aachen and winning an Olympic team silver medal in Seoul in 1988, where I finished fourth in the Individual. I cannot put into words the gratitude I have for Fran who invested in me and my passion for riding on the U.S. Team!
A few years later, I put together another group to buy a small, hot, five-year-old, Thoroughbred named Eros. Fran and her sister Carlene bought into the Eros Group, once again believing in me that this scrawny chestnut could go to the Olympics. With Fran as a huge part of our team, Eros and I won so much together. She traveled to most of the shows and was always involved in our plans, helping decide when to compete or wait for a Championship. Eros won the then richest Grand Prix, the Pulsar Grand Prix of Mexico, and rode in the World Cup Finals, World Equestrian Games and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games where we won the team silver medal.
Fran not only supported a tremendous amount of my career and so much of my international successes, but also her daughter Francie, who has been extremely successful as a rider and trainer.
What can I say about Fran? Without her continuous support, my life would’ve been much different. She gave me confidence, support, guidance, incredible words of wisdom and lifelong friendship. Having been a rider and competitor for many years herself, she has been an amazing owner. She understood the game of winning and losing. She was strong and knowledgeable with a wealth of experience. She would voice her opinions and beliefs and yet always be open minded. Because she loved her horses and was a top horsewoman, doing what was best for the horses always came first. Fran was never about how much money we could win or winning at any cost; and yet we won a lot and had world-class horses with incredible victories along with some of the heartache that goes with the sport.
As a friend and owner, she was compassionate, strong, with a great sense of humor and always seeing the bright side of things with a smile and twinkle in her eye. I could always talk to her about my fears and concerns. Fran always felt, why not follow your dreams, go for it, what have you got to lose? I can never thank her enough for all she did for me, not only as an owner but as a mentor and role model. Her integrity, her horse sense, her love of the horses and love of the sport all influenced me immensely. Even serving on boards and committees as I do today, I got from watching Fran. She worked on boards and committees to help the sport behind the scenes, always looking out for fairness, the big picture and the welfare of the horses.
Fran has been a huge part of my team and a tremendous influence in my life, career and philosophy. Her generosity, kindness, team feeling, commitment to work, growth, improving and to always giving back to the sport, I learned from Fran. She would always stand up for what she thought was right and yet she listened and kept an open mind. These remarkable qualities I try to emulate myself.
I love spending time with her in Wellington, still seeking her wisdom and advice on horses and on life! I am extremely thankful to have had some incredible journeys with Fran Steinwedell! We’ve had some great horses, many memorable experiences, and an awful lot of fun!
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About the Author
Anne Kursinski is a five-time Olympian with two team silver medals. In 1991, the U.S. Olympic Committee voted her Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year.