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 Mickey Walsh, Show Jumping Hall of Fame class of 1995.
From a family with six generations in the horse business, Mickey Walsh emigrated to the United States from his native Kildorrery, County Cork, Ireland in 1925 at the age of 18.
His humble beginning was leading horses out in Central Park in New York City. Walsh started competing hunters and jumpers with Jim Rice in 1926 before moving to Massachusetts where, by the 1930s, he was winning top honors at virtually every major horse show of the day, including Devon, the National Horse Show and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
His top horses included Erin’s Son, Bright Light, Faugh-A-Ballagh and the unforgettable Little Squire, a 13.3 hand Irish pony he guided to the Open Jumper Championship at the National Horse Show. In 1937, Walsh mounts won 147 blue ribbons and more than $7,000 in prizemoney, an amazing sum in those days.
After moving to Southern Pines, North Carolina in 1939, Walsh earned a second outstanding reputation as a horseman, this time training steeplechase and timber horses. He also remained active on the hunter/jumper circuit, monopolizing ribbons throughout the next decade along with George Braun and Cappy Smith. Among his great horses of the 1940s was Bob O-Link, the top hunter at the 1947 National Horse Show.
Founder of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in Southern Pines, Walsh was the nation’s leading steeplechase trainer from 1950 to 1955, and the third steeplechase trainer to win $1 million. Walsh was the recipient of Steeplechase’s highest award in 1975, the F. Ambrose Clark Award, which is given to a person making a significant contribution to the sport.
In 1977, Walsh was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. He was nominated to the Racing Hall of Fame in 1983.
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