A Founding Club: International Equestrian Organization

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IEO founder Lilian Wittmack Roye, a native of Denmark who immigrated to the US to work for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (USDF Archives)

America’s first dressage club and USDF’s oldest GMO, the Pennsylvania-based International Equestrian Organization was founded in 1958 by the late Lilian Wittmack Roye, a native of Denmark who immigrated to the US in 1949 on a one-year contract with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

After her circus career ended, Roye settled in York, PA, and established a training facility, Bri-Mar Stables. Told that “nobody wants a dressage show,” she proceeded to put on her own, a groundbreaking competition held at Bri-Mar in 1955. The IEO went on to host what some believe to have been the first CDI (FEI-recognized dressage competition) in the US, in 1976.

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