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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bill Glass: Keeping the Westport Horsey Set in Line

By Ed Kiersh

Westport’s Fairfield County Hunt Club hosts the prestigious $25,000 Grand Prix show jumping event on Saturday and Bill Glass once again is the man in charge.WestportNow.com Image
Bill Glass keeps track of all aspects of the Fairfield County Hunt Club’s June benefit show. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ed Kiersh for WestportNow.com

“He’s a virtuoso at orchestrating all the disparate parts and accommodating all the different personalities that come to Westport,” said Andre Dignelli, an internationally known trainer from Heritage Farms in Katonah, N.Y.

The high jumping contest culminates five days of equestrian competition at the private, 34-acre club’s June benefit show, which is open to the public.

Organizing such a sophisticated, large-scale event with 750 horses, more than 100 riders, dozens of corporate sponsors including Chopard and Wachovia, grooms, maintenance people and a 60-man team of groundskeepers is no easy task.

But Glass is up to the challenge, having managed equestrian shows for the last 35 years.

The 58-year-old, sun-bleached Floridian supervises everything from parking and toilet facilities at the Hunt Club to the installing of the jumping fences and keeping the sand “just right” in the obstacle pits.

He’s been the main coordinator at this Long Lots Road extravaganza for “too many years than I care to remember (20, actually),” and knows that the Westport club’s sophisticated members demand “my being at the top of my game.”

“This is top drawer stuff, we have a lot of high level equestrians and people in the Westport area,” said Glass, steering a golf cart between a phalanx of horses and grooms preparing for practice runs.

“You have lots of junior amateurs jumping, four rings of competition going on simultaneously, and that has me moving around quite a bit.

“I must always serve the riders and the horses, provide a facility that enables them to have good competition.

“These people have spent a lot of money coming to Westport, and this is a very big operation, about a $750,000 show that really demands a lot of coordination.”

Glass loves horses. He also likes the well-steeped traditions of the Hunt Club, and catering to privileged horse set aficionados Dignelli terms “very insistent at times.”

“These people are very attached to their horses,” he said. “They’ve made a huge investment, spend a lot of money in Westport, and want everything perfect.”

As the club’s “crisis manager,” Glass is equally devoted to a flawless, five-day operation.

“I pick up trash, schedule judging, I just can’t do anything about the weather,” he chuckles, worrying that the horses won’t perform up to their abilities in this week’s sweltering heat.

“Some horses just don’t like the heat. Their energy is drained. Some are much more level-headed and frisky in the cold.”

The event attracts Olympic-level riders and horses, and benefits the EQUUS Foundation, a nonprofit Westport-based organization which awards grants to charities using horses to help autistic children and for the public’s welfare.

But no matter how the horses perform, EQUUS Foundation president Lynn Coakley feels Glass is the perfect person to supervise this many-faceted event.

“Billy makes things happens,” she said. “He keeps everything on schedule in this show that’s as sophisticated as any large convention. He’s a true horse person and does a fabulous job.”

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Posted 06/28/07 at 04:09 AM  Permalink



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