General Chamberlin: America's Equestrian Genius: A biography of Harry Dwight Chamberlin by Warren Matha
Filled with equestrian insights, Harry Chamberlin's biography is the story of a preeminent equestrian theorist and teacher, an adoring father and husband, a brilliant military officer, and a genius in the saddle.
His career spans 34 years of accomplishment. He trains the 1st Cavalry Division to become “the best-trained division in the Army” and one of its most decorated combat divisions during World War II. He earns the highest respect of generals and sergeants.
At the Olympics of 1932, the US Cavalry’s greatest horseman, Major Harry Chamberlin faces a problem: His prized jumper goes lame. Rather than scratch, Chamberlin mounts a gray mare on which he has never competed before, rides into the stadium as 105,000 spectators look on and surmounts the most difficult jumping course in Olympic history. His performance astounds to this day.
A horseman of uncanny abilities, Chamberlin devises a unique combination of techniques to ride and train. His system enables novice riders to begin on a solid foundation and seasoned Olympians to further hone their skills. He combines French, Italian, German, and American methods to fashion a revolutionary new riding “seat” which remains the standard for equestrians the world over today.
“Beyond his horsemanship, in an era that produced the greatest crop of outstanding soldiers in America’s history, Harry Chamberlin was a soldier’s soldier…He represents the model military professional…” - Historian Lt. Col. Louis DiMarco, Ph.D.
Years earlier, the Commandant of the famous Italian Cavalry School at Tor di Quinto, says of Chamberlin: “the pupil has surpassed his master.”
Years later, George H. Morris calls Chamberlin the “founding father of equestrian sport in the United States.”
James Wofford ranks him “second only to Caprilli in international influence” and writes: “Chamberlin is to horsemanship as Mozart is to music.”
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About the author
Warren C. Matha retired from structured finance consulting in 2005. He inherited his lifetime love of horses, history, and cavalry from his father who served as an instructor in the horsemanship department at Ft. Riley and rode border patrol with the horse-mounted 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division.
His father insisted, as a prerequisite to buying a horse, that he study, at age 14, the US Cavalry’s manual Horsemanship and Horsemastership as the source of all equestrian wisdom. He studied basic dressage with Thomas Poulin, spent 45 minutes a day, 4 days a week, for 5 months on a longing line under the critical eye of Sharon Poulin, the wife of Bronze Team medalist Michael Poulin. He spent extended time in Europe to observe the training protocols of the riding schools at Saumur, Warendorf, and Vienna. George H. Morris’ discussion in The American Jumping Style regarding the contributions of American cavalry officers to show jumping inspired him to write the Chamberlin biography and its companion volume, The Chamberlin Reader as a continuation of Mr. Morris’ fine work. He has ridden horses, off and on, for 60 years.
376 pages, hardcover
“Jimmy Wofford's review in the Chronicle of The Horse says it all. To quote him: "In a sense, Matha, has written the Rosetta Stone of Equestrian Theory." Anyone interested in history and horses will find a treasure trove of information about "the father of American riding" whose theories influence Olympic and other riders all over the world today, about the evolution of what George Morris calls "the American Jumping Style" and about far more. The book offers equestrian insights on riding and training to Olympians and novices alike including all who hunt, endurance ride, show jump, or just trail ride for fun.
Highly recommended also to those interested in the US Cavalry during the zenith of military riding in America. As General Lucian Truscott, Jr. wrote Chamberlin was "The finest horseman in the army...He was tall, handsome, a magnetic personality---the very beau ideal of a cavalryman." As General George C. Marshall wrote, Chamberlin "...was one of the ablest and more popular men in the Regular establishment...He was one of those rare individuals who excelled in everything that he did..."
The book takes the reader to Saumur to learn French equitation, to Tor di Qunito to learn the Italian forward method, to Ft. Riley to learn the American way of riding and training that has influenced and inspired Olympic competitors all over the world. The reader will learn why the US Cavalry's riders and horses prevailed in the most grueling endurance ride in American history: the 1,000 mile round trip punitive expedition into Mexico under General Pershing where temperatures hit 120 degrees by day and trooper's canteens froze solid at night. The author's description of the Prix des Nations jumping competition in the 1932 Olympics puts the armchair reader in the stands watching and any rider in the irons riding over the jumps in the most difficult jumping competition in all of Olympic history.
A well written, well researched, and fascinating story. Highly recommended.”