The Mason Phelps “Spirit of the Sport” Grant
Presented by The New England Equitation Committee and The National Horse Show
Mason Phelps (1948-2021) was involved in our sport in every way possible: from groom to Olympian to governing leader and more. He launched dozens of ingenious events that raised money and interest in Equestrian sports over his career including the AA rated Christmas show in San Antonio, the American Jumping Derby (later the International Jumping Derby), the New England Hunt Seat Medal (in 1977), and numerous inventive classes in the early days of WEF. Phelps served and left his mark on numerous boards and committees including the AHSA (now the USEF), USET, Show Jumping Hall of Fame, NEHC, RIHA, The National Horse Show, and as a show judge and trainer. Phelps was an integral part of the creation of the Equestrian Aid Foundation and served at the Athletes Equity Resource Center. His “Denim and Diamonds” gala was the event of the season for many years at WEF and raised millions for the sport. Friends joked he could exceed an unlimited budget! He also gave a lot of his own money to equestrian causes without a lot of recognition.
In his early days at the Aquidneck Island Pony Club, every Saturday Phelps taught numerous children how to ride, muck, and groom for free. Phelps loved people who loved our sport, and it is said he propped up and pushed forward many of his fellow horsemen.
In 2001, after retiring from riding and teaching, Phelps launched Phelps Media Group which despite his lack of experience in PR became “America’s most progressive and successful Equestrian PR firm.”
A longtime president of the NHS, Phelps was instrumental in The National Horse Show finding its “forever home” at the Kentucky Horse Park and served on the board until recently. He created the New England Hunt Seat Medal class as a stepping-stone for riders to make it through Regionals and on to The National Horse Show. It was important to him that financials should not prevent a qualified rider from attending a National Final.
The grant will be awarded to the Junior Rider whose essay is voted among the top three by the Grant Committee (announced on Friday night at NEEC), achieves the highest first round NEEC score among the Grant finalists, and has qualified to compete at the NHS 3’3” Medal or Maclay finals at The National Horse Show and will be attending. Applications must be received by October 1. Past winners may not reapply.
The winner will be awarded complementary stall, entries, and entry blank fees at both the New England Equitation Championships and The National Horse Show plus a stipend from each organization.