Shortly after the opening of Kingswood School for Girls in the fall of 1931, headmistress Katherine Adams reported that horseback riding would be a part of the physical education program, due in large part to the cooperation of nearby Bloomfield Open Hunt Club. Several of the girls already boarded horses in nearby stables, including the Hunt Club. The Kingswood Riding Club was officially established in 1939 and the school catalog outlined that girls would ride on the Hunt Club’s bridle paths in spring and fall, and in the covered ring during winter months. Girls rode on Wednesday afternoons as part of “club day” but the sport quickly became so popular that they also rode on Sunday mornings. In the spring of 1940, Cranbrook School boys joined the girls for the Sunday morning rides, during which they enjoyed breakfast at the Club House.
By the fall of 1940, the club had grown to 26 members and met on Mondays and Wednesdays. Katherine Unger, of Walled Lake, was hired to “teach the riding club the fine points of riding and horsemanship”, and in the spring of 1941, the Kingswood Riding Club held its first horse show. Riding took place at nearby Bloomfield Hunt Club and at the Outland Riding Stables (located on 14 Mile Road) where there was an inside ring. The following spring, the Kingswood Riding Club held its first horse show.
In September 1941, Unger expressed hope that 1-2 indoor shows would be held during the winter, and that more girls would own horses. “The school horses are all right for beginners but as was so apparent at the show the girls who had their own mounts made the best showing.” Headmistress Margaret Augur felt the school could not encourage horse ownership (due to the added expense for the girls) and worried that competitions would become a “rich girl’s sport” and thus, a bad tendency for the school.
The second annual Kingswood Horse Show was held on May 20, 1942 at Outland Riding Stable with judged competitions and an awards presentation. Virginia McCullough won first place in all of the classes she entered – Hunters Class, 3 Foot Jump, Horsemanship for Owners, Open Jumping 3’6” and Hunter Hacks. Phyllis Klinger took first in the Three-gaited Class and Anita Bray for Horsemanship for Non-Owners. During the fall of 1942, the girls planned a spring horse show but by December, gas rationing due to World War II meant that the girls were unable to secure taxis to the stables. By March 1943, taxi service was discontinued and even though riding continued to appear as a sport in the school catalog until 1947, the club was never reinstated.
– Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist and Gina Tecos, Archivist
Had never heard about the Kingswood Riding Club and wondered if Shirley Wallace Sarver had been one of the riders.
Yes! We do have a photograph of her in the Riding Club in 1941.
Very interesting ……I hear there are some girls today at Kingswood School who have their own horses boarded at Bl. Hunt Club and ride there regularly.
Thank you for sharing such interesting history of the Community!