Each week on #HallOfFameThursday, Horse Network recognizes members of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame with an inductee’s plaque and historical photos. This week’s featured inductee is Walter B. Devereux, Class of 2016.
Walter B. Devereux III had a lifelong interest in horses beginning at the age of six.
He was originally passionate about the sport of polo along with his grandfather and father who helped found the Intercollegiate Polo Association in 1903. The Devereux family was the first in the country to create a family polo team.
During World War II, Devereux enlisted in the cavalry and then served in the military as an intelligence officer in France. Soon after his return from Europe, Devereux turned his attention back to the equestrian world, and became secretary of the National Horse Show in 1948. He went on to serve as Vice President in 1950 and had three separate terms as President (1954–1956; 1961; 1963–1969).
Under his leadership the National became less of a “club” and more of a “business.” It was under his leadership in 1968 that the National was moved from the old to the new Madison Square Garden in New York City. It proved a successful, yet difficult, move as the new venue offered less space for horses and Devereux was forced to streamline the schedule. Despite those hardships, along with two nights of snow, the 1968 National attracted record crowds and turned a profit, which helped save the existence of America’s most famous horse show.
Devereux owned several hunters and jumpers with his wife “Bunny.” Their daughters, Lindly and Anne, also rode and competed.
Always ready to do what he could to help support the sport, Devereux purchased and then permanently lent the legendary jumping horse, Sinjon, to the U.S. Equestrian Team (USET), where he became a hugely successful mount for Olympic riders George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Bill Steinkraus. Sinjon won many international competitions around the world with those riders, participated on 19 winning Nations Cup teams, and helped the U.S. win a team Silver Medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics with Morris in the saddle.
Sinjon was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1999.
Devereux also served for many years as an officer and director of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA), now the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), as well as the USET. He also served on the Bureau of the Federation Equestre Internationale (PEI). He was a respected judge and headed judging panels for the Pan American Games.
Devereux passed away in 1970. His contributions to the sport are honored to this day with the USEF’s annual presentation of the Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award to the horseman or horsewoman who personifies the ideals of sportsmanship through commitment, dedication and service to the sport.
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