Col. Clarence Edmonds – 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award winner

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Col. Clarence Edmonds was awarded the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He contributed for many decades to the growth and development of both USDF and the Potomac Valley Dressage Associations. “Col. Ed” is a founding member of both associations, and served as an important advisor to Lowell Boomer for several decades. He was a dressage judge and founded the USDF L Education program for judge training. He also served as the chairman of the USDF Technical Delegate Council from 1984 to 1991 and created the Dressage Protocol pamphlet and TD Checklist. He has always been a champion of adult amateurs, juniors, and young riders, and was never afraid to express his clear opinions to support their efforts.

Speech written and given by Dr. Samuel Barrish, USDF President, December 1, 2005.

It is a great pleasure for me to tell you about a very special person – this year’s USDF Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Colonel Clarence Edmonds, affectionately known as Colonel Ed. He has made outstanding contributions for many decades to the growth and development of both USDF and the Potomac Valley Dressage Association. Clarence is a founding member of both organizations, attended USDF’s first  organizing meeting in 1973 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is one of eight people who has been a USDF Participating Member from the beginning. He was an important advisor to Lowell Boomer for several decades. Clarence was the second PVDA President and attended all of its monthly meetings since 1969!

Colonel Ed was a judge in dressage, combined training, hunt seat equitation, and western, and a dressage technical delegate. This experience gave him valuable insight into all facets of horse sports. Clarence founded the USDF “L” Education Program for Judge Training, which became a requirement for entry into the AHSA ‘r’ Judges Program. This gave USDF significant credibility. He also started the AHSA Judges Training Program and served on the dressage committee for four years.

Colonel Ed was the chairman of the USDF Technical Delegate Council from 1984 to 1991, and created the Dressage Protocol pamphlet and the TD Checklist. The pamphlet provided for the first time a written pattern of ethics that went beyond the rules to define the conduct and courtesy of the sport.

He participated in the USDF annual convention every year, served as a PVDA delegate from 1988 to 2003, and provided his wisdom on many critical issues during USDF Board of Governors discussions. His tireless volunteerism and enthusiasm have made an immeasurable impact on the growth and development on USDF.

Clarence has always been the champion of adult amateurs, juniors, and young riders training and competing at the lower levels. He made them feel important, and was never afraid to express his clear opinions to support their efforts at both USDF annual conventions and Region 1 meetings. According to Colonel Ed, what he views as his greatest accomplishments are teaching riding, and coaching the Redland Hunt and Iron Bridge Pony Club teams in Maryland to many wins.

However, he did save time for the ‘little ladies.’ Clarence was a champion of the feminine sex. He somehow knew that horses and riding were their refuge. Clarence believed they were the grass roots and a special part of the sport, that dressage was more than the Olympic level, and that you were very much a part of it whether you  were riding at Grand Prix at a CDI or riding Training Level at a schooling show. Somehow the ‘ladies’ knew that, and flocked to the shows he was judging. Clarence fought against score requirements and restrictions that would limit their participation and take the fun out of dressage. He never took himself or his position too seriously,  and a story or joke preceded any serious discussion. Colonel Ed was also designated a “legend” by the US Pony Clubs, is a member of the 4-H Hall of Fame, and received the 1994 Maryland 4-H Foundation award.

Clarence is a very individual man. After you have been around him for a while, you realize that he has his own style and even his own special language, or Clarence–speak. For example, he knows very well that our sport is pronounced dressage. But Clarence insists on calling it ‘dressige.’

I have gone on many road trips to dressage meetings with Clarence. When we meet in my car, the first thing he always says is, “Don’t worry, I know how to get there. I have the ‘destructions.’”

Many of you have heard Colonel Ed give his impassioned speeches on subjects dear to his heart at dressage meetings. When he is finished, he doesn’t just sit down. He closes with the old military term: “I surrender.”

Clarence also loves to tell off-color jokes, which are known far and wide. Maybe we will be lucky enough to hear one tonight!

But Colonel Ed was not always a horseman. I will bet that few of you know that he was a nationally-recognized gymnast who competed in gymnastics until he was 40. In both high school and college, he always placed first in his specialty, the vaulting horse, a harbinger of things to come. He was second in the AAU National Competition for the Central States in the All Around division.

He met his wife Erna when he was 19 at summer camp run by a gymnastics organization. They have been married for 62 years! The Edmonds have two sons, who are both here with their families tonight. Carl – an Atomic Safety Scientist with the Missile Program, at Lockheed Martin Corporation in California, and Raymond – a Computer Systems Analyst at Boeing Corporation in Seattle. Carl traveled all the way from California to Maryland just to help his father get on the plane to come to the Salute Gala. Clarence and Erna have five grand children and eight great grand children.

In his long equestrian career, Colonel Ed went from giving riding lessons for $1 an hour at the “Boots and Saddle Club” in Texas, to being the guest of honor at a special performance by the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. He has been a very rich asset to our sport, and his contributions will continue to be felt for a long time. I am honored to present this year’s USDF Lifetime Achievement Award to a man with a lot of heart, my dear friend, Colonel Clarence Edmonds.

Learn about other Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients.

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