While last week’s visit to campus by U.S. Olympic dressage medalist Carol Lavell was her first, she arrived with a background that was shaped by someone familiar to Culver horsemanship and very special to her – Capt. John H. “Jack” Fritz.
Lavell met with the 18 Equestriennes as a group to discuss position and seat and then conducted seven classes on Friday with two or three Equestriennes each time and another eight classes Saturday. She donated her time, energy, talent in memory of her mentor Fritz, who was co-director of the Horsemanship Department from 1954-57 and had served as U.S. Equestrian Team vice president. Fritz, who died in February 2012, is a member of Culver’s Horsemanship Hall of Fame.
Lavell’s association with Fritz goes back to 1961-76. During this time she was a competitor in dressage (also known as eventing), and he often judged classes at the Green Mountain Horse Association Dressage Show and the GMHA Horse Trials in South Woodstock, Vt.
“Through the years, the captain was often my judge in dressage, and when I was invited to the USET’s High Performance Dressage Training sessions at Gladstone N.J., we sometimes shared a quick sandwich lunch in his office. One of my best memories was when Captain Fritz noticed I was sleeping in my horse van and invited me to a hot meal and shower at his home. As well as a skilled judge, he was a good cook! Knowing I was traveling 10 hours back to Vermont the next day, Captain made sure I went home with a huge bagged lunch complete with fresh-baked cookies! I miss this man,” Lavell said via email.
Riding Gifted, Lavell won team bronze medals at both the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and the 1994 World Equestrian Games at The Hague, Netherlands. In 2003 she and Much Ado were reserve champions at the U.S. Equestrian Team Intermediaire I Championship and were members of the gold medal team at the Pam American Games in Santa Domingo.
In 1987, Lavell was a member of the silver medal team at the Pan American Games. She was named the 1990 and 1992 U.S. Olympic Committee Female Equestrian Athlete of the Year; received the prestigious Whitney Stone Cup in 1992; and was named 1992’s American Horse Shows Association/Hertz Equestrian of the Year.
A Florida resident, she conducts clinics throughout the United States, sharing riding and competitive experiences spanning 43 years. Lavell is currently a member of the U.S. Equestrian Federation and Executive Committee, the board of directors, the Dressage Riders Committee, the High Performance Committee, and is a licensed R judge in dressage.