“One of the 50 most influential horsemen of the Twentieth Century ...”
(The Chronicle of the
The only rider to have ever won both a gold medal in eventing and a Tevis buckle in endurance.
In 2006, Denny was inducted into the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Hall of Fame.
He is also a member of the Dartmouth College Athletic Hall of Fame and of the Vermont Academy
Athletic Hall of Fame.
Denny Emerson, eventer, trainer, coach, author, leader, activist, has been a significant,
influential force in the equestrian community for a half-century. Beginning with his first
competition, the Stoneleigh Prospect Hill School Gymkhana, at the age of 12, Denny has forged a
career with horses which culminated in his receiving the both the USEA’s Wofford Cup for
lifetime service to eventing, the American Riding Instructor Certification Program (ARICP)
Lifetime Achievement Award, induction in 2006 into the USEA Hall of Fame, and included leadership
in such organizations as the USEA (twice president), the USET (vice-president of Eventing for
seven years), the USEF (on the Executive Committee), and Chairman of the Breeder’s Committee
of the AHSA.
Now in his 48th consecutive year of competing at the preliminary level or higher, Denny has achieved
much success in the sport of eventing. At 20, Denny rode in his first event, a preliminary
three day event at GMHA. By 1965, Denny had moved up to intermediate, on Lighting Magic, his
first event horse, and in 1971, on Cat, he rode in his first advanced event, at Dunham, Quebec.
Denny’s advanced career would last for 29 seasons, during which time he brought 14 horses to
that level, an average of about one advanced horse every two seasons.
In 1972, Denny won the USCTA’s “Rider of the Year” award. Two years later, riding Victor Dakin,
Denny rode a clean cross country round at the Burghley, England World Championship Three Day
Event, to secure a team gold medal for the USET. Victor Dakin proved himself a formidable force
when, in another two years, he helped Denny become reserve rider for the USET at the Bromont,
Olympics, and a few months after that, he and Denny won the 1976 National Three Day Event held
In 1979, Denny won the US National Three Day Event at Chesterland, this time riding York, who
also captured the title of 1979 USEA “Horse of the Year.” Three years later, Denny was the
Reserve Champion at the US National Three Day Event, riding Farnley Rob Roy. In 1992, riding
the Thoroughbred stallion, Epic Win, Denny won the Bromont CCI**. Then in 1999, at the age of
58, Denny rode Speed Axcel to a clear round at the Groton House advanced event, his last
Denny’s latest mounts for 2009 include Loftus Fox, Union Station, and Cobrador.
In addition to his eventing career, Denny has been involved in numerous other horse sports during
his 56 years of competing. He rode in his first one hundred mile trail ride at GMHA in 1956.
Forty-eight years later, in 2004, Denny won a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance, for completing the
50th Anniversary of the Western States Trail Ride, the most famous and arduous 100 mile
endurance race in the world.
Denny has competed at the National Morgan Horse Show, has shown hunters at Ox Ridge, has shown
jumpers and dressage horses at dozens of shows, and has ridden in steeplechase races. As an
endurance rider, Denny has compiled 2,250 miles in American Endurance Ride Conference races, and
was long listed for the 2005 USA East team for the North American Championships.
Accomplishments as Author
Denny has authored bi-monthly articles for the “Between Rounds” feature of The Chronicle of the
Horse, since the inception of that forum about fourteen years ago. He has been featured three
times on the cover of Practical Horseman magazine in conjunction with feature articles which he
authored in 1982, 1991 and 1999.
Denny wrote the forewards to Sally Swift’s huge best selling book Centered Riding, to
Priscilla Endicott’s Taking Up the Reins, to Donna Snyder-Smith’s The All Around Horse
and Rider, and to the USCTA Book of Eventing. Denny has also contributed chapters and
sections to such books as Riding For America, Burghley – The Three Day Event,
Lexington, 1978, and Kentucky, Three Day Event.
And Denny’s speaking skills are renowned, at conferences, conventions, symposiums, and lectures
throughout the US and Canada. Denny engages his audiences with humor and sensitivity, and just
a touch of curmudgeonry.
Honors and Awards
In 1991, Denny was presented the Lifetime Master Instructor Award by the American Riding
Instructor Certification Program. In 1998, the inaugural Ayers-Hammett Award by the American
Medical Equestrian Association was awarded Denny “in recognition of his outstanding contributions
to promote safer horsemanship.” Denny again received an inaugural award as recipient in 1999 of
the “Equestrian Land Conservation Resource Leadership Award.” His passion for land conservancy
is demonstrated by his service as trustee and President of the Green Mountain Horse Association
in Vermont, as trustee of the Carolina Horse Park in North Carolina,, and as trustee of the
Equestrian Land Conservation Resource.
Denny is a 1963 graduate of Dartmouth College, and he and May have two sons, Rett and Jamie.
In 1984, Denny was inducted into "Wearers of the Green", the Dartmouth College Athletic Hall
May Emerson began riding in Philadelphia on a pony when she was 6, and showed hunters and jumpers
through Foxcroft School and Smith College. While at Smith, May bought “House Guest,” and showed
him at such competitions as Eastern States in the A/O jumper division, before switching to eventing with him. Her first event was the GMHA preliminary 3-day in 1967, and eventually she competed him through the intermediate level, including the National Intermediate 3-Day Championships at Ledyard Farm. She also competed Chestry Oak, Damon, For Pete’s Sake, Opera Ghost and Dakota Swift at the preliminary level.
May taught riding at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in the late 60’s, and has taught since then at
Tamarack for over 35 years. She also organized the GMHA 3-Day event for 3 years, including the
National Championship Peters Cup division for young riders.
When Walter Christensen (who was to become coach of the Swedish Olympic Dressage Team) began
teaching clinics in the U.S., May rode with him for eleven years, including a period in Germany
when Walter invited her to Stal Tasdorf to study, and to ride some of his horses. Currently May
is running the farm office, teaching some, and has three horses.
Tamarack's Barn Manager is Daryl Kinney. Daryl Kinney graduated from Johnson & Wales University’s Equine Business Management program in
November of 2007. She is originally from Michigan where she competed through second level
dressage and training level eventing. Daryl began teaching in Michigan at Providence Farm with
Julie Blackburn where she also had the opportunity to sit on many horses including several
thoroughbred race horses.
She moved to Rhode Island to attend school and began riding with Tom and Joan Davis at
Flatlands Equestrian Center.
At Flatlands, Daryl began teaching more and was able to become a Massachusetts Certified
Riding Instructor. With the education and experience she learned there, she was able to go to
Belgium for 3 months to work with Karin Donckers, a top FEI event rider. There Daryl, was able
to gain experience riding upper level event horses and grooming at FEI competitions.
After returning to the U.S., Daryl returned to Flatlands where she bought a young Flatlands
homebred, Character Witness, a thoroughbred cross by Reputed Testamony out of a Portrait
Painter Mare. She continued working with Tom and Joan, teaching lessons, helping in the barn,
riding, and competing. In the summer of 2007, Daryl was able to take one of the Johnson &
Wales school horses, Luck of the Irish, to a USDF dressage show where she competed in third
level. During the summer, Daryl was presented with the opportunity of going to the German
National Riding School at the Westphalian State Stud in Warendorf, Germany. Through Johnson &
Wales University, Daryl was able to attend the Riding School for her co-op and the completion
of her college degree. While at the German Riding School, Daryl was able to ride many of the
state stallions and receive lectures from top German vets, judges, and riders.