In 2018, as approved by the USDF Executive Board, the USDF Historical Recognition Committee chose four noteworthy members to receive this honor. A Member of Distinction is someone who has made outstanding contributions on a local or regional level toward the fulfillment of USDF’s mission of education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. Mary Anne McPhail is the fourth honoree we recognize.
Mary Anne McPhail grew up in the Detroit area and now divides her time between Michigan and Loxahatchee, Florida. A longtime adult-amateur dressage competitor and a retired US Equestrian “S” judge, she has made indelible contributions to the sport.
In 1997, she and husband Walter McPhail established the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, East Lansing. There the McPhails also funded the construction of the McPhail Equine Performance Center for the purpose of conducting ongoing research in the fields of dressage horses’ health and performance. The inaugural McPhail Dressage Chairholder, Dr. Hilary Clayton, has conducted research whose findings have affected everything from the way dressage definitions and rules are written to the design and maintenance of arena footing.
McPhail has supported the USDF for years by hosting the East Coast editions of the USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference at her Florida facility, High Meadow Farm. She revived a struggling Palm Beach Dressage Derby into a prestigious CDI, and she has owned or co-owned high-performance horses including Robert Dover’s 1992 Olympic mount, Lectron, and current international competitor Lonoir, ridden and co-owned by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz.
“Serving as the McPhail chair was the opportunity of a lifetime and one for which I will be forever grateful,” said Clayton. “Much has been accomplished as a result of Mary Anne’s vision and foresight. It has become something of a tradition to annually share this research with USDF members at the convention.”