By Britney Grover
Lynn Walsh is an influential member of the Texas hunter-jumper community—as a passionate volunteer. She’s had the “horse bug” ever since she was a toddler and cherished growing up in Pony Club even as her family moved around Canada for her father’s Royal Canadian Air Force career, but has always ridden as an amateur. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, as a high school senior, where she met her now-husband, Pete, and has lived in Texas ever since.
After making the decision to retire from her career in advertising and marketing to raise her two children, Lynn began volunteering at The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. “Lots of local history, and it was responsible for providing the seed money for Texas Children’s Hospital in 1945,” Lynn said. “Their motto then and now is, ‘No child shall be left behind.’”
Lynn served as Pin Oak’s president for many years, helping to raise well over $7 million in her time there, and she remains involved on the philanthropic side. She has also served on the board of the Texas Hunter Jumper Association for over 25 years—four of which she was president—and is vice chair of the USHJA Hunter Restructure Committee, having previously served as chair for four years, as well as other USHJA committees and task forces. “I really enjoyed giving back to my sport, and encourage everyone to get involved as it helps you understand the way things work.”
Lynn and Pete have been married for 50 years, and live on a farm outside of Magnolia, Texas, but spend time at their two other Texas ranches. “I feel so lucky that Pete has supported my love of horses and has enjoyed coming to out-of-town shows,” Lynn said. She also gets to share her love of horses with a new generation as their two sons, Ryan and Devin, have wives and children of their own ranging from weeks old to 4 ½ years.
What are your best early memories of riding or with horses?
When I was in Pony Club, for Christmas they would host a party at one of the barns and there was a man that had a white horse that pulled a sleigh. I remember it was snowing big flakes that night, very peaceful, and they would take us out in the woods in the sleigh loaded up with blankets and we would sing Christmas carols. I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to have a life that included horses.
Any favorite horses over the years?
I have to say that every horse is my favorite for different reasons! One of my favorite horses of all time is Ocean Park, aka Parker. Peter Pletcher found Parker for me after Jimmy Torano imported him, and he was an amazing hunter. He ended up Horse of the Year in the Second Year Green division and was champion and reserve in both Second Year Green and A/O 35 & Over at all the major horse shows including Indoors. In 2016 he was awarded The Grey Slipper Award at Capital Challenge and officially retired, although I had not shown him for several years. Parker was retired on my farm, Park Place Farm, named after Parker himself, and lived in his same stall and paddock until he passed away two years ago at the age of 30-plus! Another favorite was MacArthur Park, Grand Hunter Champion at Capital Challenge and again, quite successful in the First Year Green and Amateur Owner divisions. He passed away five years ago, also at my farm.
What is your favorite thing about being part of the horse world?
I absolutely love the people. Most of my good friends ride or have ridden, and we keep in touch even though we may only see each other during Florida or at specific shows. I also love where horse shows take me, places I may not have picked to visit such as Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Palm Springs, Wellington and Devon. Finally, there is something about the partnership between a horse and the rider that is special. Although I love to win, I really enjoy the feeling of a good trip.
If you could tell every rider one thing, what would it be?
Enjoy the process and your horse. Learn as much as possible about horse care so you can be your horse’s advocate. Try and ride outside the ring—enjoy trail riding if possible.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
Go to the ranch—we have a barn there and I take the horses to relax and trail ride, they love it. My family loves to go there, too, and there is always an adventure to be had. We raise buffalo on one of the ranches—very exciting at times!
Do you have a personal motto or catch phrase?
You never fail until you stop trying.
Something people don’t know about you?
I am a grandmother three times now!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
I want everyone to be happy.
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
Volunteer with some organization that you’re passionate about. I volunteer with Pin Oak and Texas Children’s, and I have met so many wonderful people throughout the years who are now good friends.