Three long-time supporters of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show from varying backgrounds are the latest to be inducted into its Hall of Fame.
Joe Alfano, Csaba Magassy and McLain Ward were inducted during this year’s show from October 12 to 22 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
Joe Alfano‘s commitment to the PNHS began more than 50 years ago. In 1966, he began an apprenticeship under former PNHS farrier, Larry Bender, before being drafted into the US Army. During his time at Fort Sam Houston, Alfano worked on many of the US pentathlon horses before being sent to Vietnam. He served as the last official farrier of the US Army and was discharged the day before the start of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show that year. Alfano returned home in Pennsylvania just in time to get to work at the show.
Alfano has been the official farrier of the PNHS for more than five decades, and he frequently shoes more than 50 horses per day during the now 11 days of competition. He takes immense pride in the trust that riders and owners have in him and his team.
“Being the PNHS farrier is one of my bucket list things; it’s a great honor just to be here,” Alfano said.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame just before the start of the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, along with renowned US show jumper and Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward, who went on to win the grand prix for the second consecutive time riding First Lady.
A lifelong horseman, Ward began riding at a young age with encouragement from his parents, Barney Ward and Kristine Lindsay, both industry professionals. In 1990, at just 14 years old, Ward became the youngest rider to win the USEF Show Jumping Derby, a win that was quickly followed by the USET Medal Finals title a few weeks later.
After turning professional, Ward became the youngest rider in US show jumping history to reach the $1 million mark in professional earnings at the age of 24. Ward is a five-time member of the US Olympic Show Jumping Team, most recently helping to secure the team silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics aboard Contagious. Ward also helped Team USA to earn a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2018 aboard HH Azur, and gold medals at both the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, both aboard the legendary Sapphire.
Ward was also a member of the gold-medal-winning US Show Jumping Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018 aboard Clinta, marking the third WEG medal of his career. The year before, Ward won the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha aboard HH Azur in his 17th World Cup Final appearance.
Most recently, Ward rode HH Azur to victories in both the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva and the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters – two of the most esteemed grand prix events in the world.
Dr Csaba Magassy was posthumously inducted into the PNHS Hall of Fame on the how’s Hunt Night, as the night was most special to Magassy.
Magassy immigrated to the Canary Islands from Hungary during the second World War, before relocating to Nebraska to study medicine at Creighton University. After completing his general surgery residency at the Washington Hospital Center, Magassy enlisted in the US Air Force where he served for five years as a flight surgeon for the Thunderbirds. Magassy then returned to the US and completed a plastic surgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and opened his own practice in 1972. He was highly regarded as an accomplished and devoted plastic surgeon, pilot and horseman.
In addition to being known as one of the Washington, D.C. area’s best plastic surgeons, Magassy was an active member of the horse show community. His roots in the horse show community began when he met his former wife, Frances “Junior” Magassy. Junior Magassy – whose family owned and operated their own farm – was an avid competitor on the circuit and encouraged Csaba Magassy to join the Potomac Hounds Hunt, of which he was an active member for many years.
His philanthropic nature led him to join the foundation boards of both the Washington International Horse Show and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
“He loved anything to do with horses; it was just a passion,” said Junior Magassy.
Csaba Magassy’s participation in the Potomac Hounds led him to also frequently participate as an exhibitor at the PNHS on Hunt Night. In 2016, at 78 years old, Csaba Magassy won the Gentleman’s Hunter Under Saddle Class aboard his own homebred, Thunderbird, and in 2017, he received the reserve honor aboard another homebred, Thunderbride.
Magassy died at the age of 83 in 2022.
Induction into the PNHS Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed annually upon select individuals in recognition of their extraordinary efforts and dedication to excellence in the equine industry and at the PNHS. It was created in 2013 with the support of The Wheeler Family. The Hall of Fame inductees are showcased each year at the PNHS in a Hall of Fame exhibit, presented by the Wheeler Family.
Alfano, Magasy and Ward join 18 other members, including the following annual inductees:
- 2013: Gerry Hempt and Frank Chapot
- 2014: Irvin S. Naylor and Steve Stephens
- 2015: Mary “Polly” Gingrich Brand Caswell and Rodney Jenkins
- 2016: Mary Mairs Chapot and Harry Rittenhouse Gill
- 2017: Joe Fargis and John Sterling
- 2018: Jack Stedding and Leslie Burr Howard
- 2019: Rick and Didi Hornberger and Idle Dice
- 2021: Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden and John Franzreb III
- 2022: Sallie Busch Wheeler, Kenneth Wheeler, Sr. and Betty Oare
McLain Ward in action. © Brittany Ann Photography
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