Women Of The Turf Exhibit Honoring Excellence In Equestrian Journalism Opens Tonight

October 4, 2019

With Special Guest Kathy Kusner

The Women of the Turf exhibit pays homage to the many women in Maryland and beyond who have left their marks in a wide variety of equestrian disciplines. Curated by Maryanna Skowronski, director of the Historical Society of Harford County, the exhibit features a “hall of fame” highlighting the lives and careers of many prominent and often overlooked horsewomen. It also features an historical overview of women’s participation in equestrian sports. Images by photojournalists Cappy Jackson and Lydia Williams, the 2019 recipients of the Robert and Anne Heighe Award for Excellence in Equestrian Journalism, will be on display in galleries that focus on their lives and work.

The exhibit will be on display at the Hays-Heighe House at Harford Community College will be on display in the Hays-Heighe House from October 4-December 20, 2019. Exhibit hours are Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m., Thursdays from 3-5 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to Noon, and first Saturdays from 10 a.m. to Noon. Admission is free, except at the opening on October 4.

It is appropriate that this exhibit be staged at Harford Community College’s Hays-Heighe House. Anne Heighe (along with her husband Robert), for whom Hays-Heighe House and the award are named, was herself a woman of the turf. She ran a successful thoroughbred race horse breeding and training operation from the 1920s through the 1940s headquartered here at what was then called Prospect Hill Farm and is now the College campus. She served as Vice-President of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and was known as “Maryland’s First Lady of Racing.” Our equestrian exhibits celebrate the history of the site, and Anne Heighe’s legacy.

This Year’s Recipients

Cappy Jackson

For more than four decades, Cappy Jackson has been a professional photographer. While she has photographed for the international fashion industry and the NFL, she is best known for award-winning equestrian photography. Jackson’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and GQ, and appears regularly in Western Horseman, Horse & Rider Magazine, and Practical Horseman. Jackson became an assistant to Peter Winants, the staff photographer for Maryland Horse, when she was just 14. Much of her early work is in black-and-white, and her emphasis is on unobtrusive photojournalism. She covered equestrian events at the Olympics in the 1970s and 1980s, and continues to do commercial work today for clients like ABC Sports and Budweiser.

Lydia A. Williams

Despite a day job in another industry, Lydia A. Williams had a passion for the track. She formally combined her two loves – photography and horses – when her photograph of J.O. Tobin at Santa Anita was published in The Maryland Horse. Since then, her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated and The Baltimore Sun, and could formerly be found in the pages of The Thoroughbred Times and Maryland Horse. Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, Bloodhorse, and Daily Racing Form continue to rely on her photographs.

Childhood summers spent on the farm of her aunt – Barbara Kees, a notable Maryland owner, trainer, and breeder of race horses – began Williams’ love of horses. Later, Kees took Williams to Maryland Horse, where she met several staff photographers and considered submitting images of her own. While she has photographed horse shows, flat- and jump-racing, and many stallions, her favorite subjects are the foals and pensioners.

Previous recipients of the Robert and Anne Heighe Award for Excellence in Equestrian Journalism include:

• Joe Kelly, 2012

• William Boniface, 2013 (awarded posthumously)

• Humphrey S. Finney, 2014 (awarded posthumously)

• Pierre “Peb” Bellocq, 2015

• Jim McKay, 2017 (awarded posthumously)

Special Guest Kathy Kusner

Born in 1940 in Gainesville, Florida, Kathy Kusner’s career as an equestrienne began with her childhood love of horses. Stable jobs provided her access to horses and riding lessons. Her talent in the saddle, particularly in jumping, garnered the notice of horse dealers who engaged her to show off their sale prospects. She eventually rose through the ranks to better caliber mounts and by the age of sixteen was riding in horse shows and in unrecognized flat and timber (jumping) races.

In 1961 she was made an official member of the United States Equestrian Team competing in the 1963 Pan-Am Games, the 1964 Olympic Games, 1967 Pan-Am Games and the 1968 Olympic Games. In 1967 she applied for and was denied a jockey’s license based on the grounds of her gender. In 1968, a judge ruled in her favor citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kathy Kusner then became the first licensed woman jockey in American horse racing and the first woman to compete in the Maryland Hunt Cup.

In 1972 she competed in the Munich Olympics where she took a silver medal. Another first as she was the first woman to medal in Olympic equestrian competition. She appeared in the Disney film The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit performing in the show jumping sequences of the movie.

Today Kathy is active as the founder of Horses in the Hood, a program which brings at- risk inner city children in the Los Angeles area to five-day horse camps. She continues to teach in clinics world-wide, is an acclaimed course designer, television commentator, a writer on equine subjects. In addition to her equestrian pursuits she is a licensed pilot qualified to fly multiple ratings including Lear-jets. She is also a certified SCUBA diver and marathon runner.

The event is sponsored by The Maryland Jockey Club, The Jim McKay Maryland Million, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, The Hays-Heighe House (Carol & William Allen), Media-Wise, Inc., Fasig-Tipton, Jan & William Roth and Camay Murphy.

Click here for tickets and updated schedule information.

From edited release/MBK

In 1968, Kathy Kusner became the first licensed woman jockey in American horse racing and the first woman to compete in the Maryland Hunt Cup. Photo courtesy Harford Community College

Contributing Authors

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

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