Behind the Performance: Riders from Bruce Duchossois’ Alma Mater Perform at 2024 Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase

There was so much to see at the $100,000 Conceal #GPE2024 at #BrucesField presented by @taylorharrisinsurance 🎉❤️🇺🇸 We…

Posted by Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase at Bruce's Field on Monday, March 11, 2024

The Culver Academies Lancers Platoon & Equestriennes has been in existence since 1897, taking up the honor of performing at each U.S. presidential inauguration parade since 1957. These groups are some of the honors organizations within the equestrian program at Culver Academies. One of the group’s alumni and longtime eventing supporter, Bruce Duchossois, purchased what is now known as Bruce’s Field in Aiken, SC.

Bruce was inducted into the Culver Academies Horsemanship Hall of Fame in 2004 and leaves a legacy throughout the equine world. Everything came full circle when the Lancers Platoon & Equestriennes appeared at Bruce’s Field for the first time ever to do their mounted display at the 2024 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase earlier this month.

Craig (Bruce’s brother) and Janet Duchossois funded the team’s trip to perform at the venue named after Bruce.

Skip Nicholls, the group’s captain, says that he came from an eventing background himself, but wasn’t sure how the students would react to watching a three-day event for the first time. He says that they were somewhat interested in dressage and show jumping, but when it came to watching cross country, they were amazed.

“The inspiration of the power, the control, the planning. And then to see top level event riders -– gold medalists out there, Olympians out there -– and it can still go wrong, that was a great leveling moment for the kids to go ‘Yeah, even the top’s still have incidents and fall off.’”

The group choreographed a new routine for the showcase and students were able to design the music for this specific routine.

“We sort of stood away from that for the first time and let them do it, so for them it provided good leadership models,” Skip says.

The original stables at the Culver Academy can be seen in the background of this photo from 1897. Photo courtesy of Culver Academies.

The team trained twice a week for six weeks before Christmas break and twice a week six weeks after break, leading up to the event. In the weeks leading up to break, they practiced the mounted display with only bridles and neck straps.

“I did it initially for a joke, just to help deepen their seat; we did it without saddles. I just wanted to work on their riding positions, just deepen their seat, get their leg a little bit longer,” Skip says.

One session turned into around 12 sessions bareback, and after around 12 more sessions (with saddles this time!) leading up to the Showcase, the team was ready.

“It’s just a great experience for the kids to go and show off their equitation skills, practice for it, that dedication, preparation, and then the execution of the plan itself when you go out to the event. It all comes together, the hard work all becomes justified.”

Some students are part of other athletic teams at Culver and some are involved in the other horsemanship disciplines that are offered such as quadrille riding, polo, and show jumping.

Skip has been the captain for two years and moved from England to the U.S. for the position. He continues to lead the team because of his love for the horse.

“It’s a pure equitation piece as well as blended with the learning because it’s a college preparation school.” He says that being able to ride while getting an education teaches empathy, problem solving, and communication.

“And then it’s that little break. We put so much pressure on kids when they go through school, sometimes it gives them that mental break,” Skip says.

The Lancers Platoon & Equestriennes gave the eventing community the chance to watch some remarkable horsemanship skills in action. Likewise, the students were able to watch horsemanship skills of a different kind throughout the weekend as well.

Horse is a universal language that transcends all around– whatever religion, creed, background you come from. To see something new and something different can inspire people in different ways as to why horses are so unique and so crucial to our life and how much influence they’ve had in shaping the world that we now live in,” Skip says.

Skip and the Culver Academies riders reminded everyone at Bruce’s Field that our love of horses runs deep.

“It reminds us that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional or an aspiring professional, or an amateur, or a leisure rider, we all get the same joy and frustrations from horses in whatever discipline we do. We can all sit and have a conversation about the horse irrelevant, whether you’re an Olympic rider or you’re a weekend hacker.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments