By Jan Westmark
It’s been said if you need to get things done, then Sally Ike is the person to ask. Sally, who started working for the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation in 1989, said her philosophy has always been, “If there’s a problem, let’s investigate and fix it if possible.”
For her lifelong dedication to the equestrian sport, Sally was honored by US Equestrian with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award. “To be honored by the Federation is huge! It speaks to the extraordinary opportunities I’ve had in so many, many areas of my life. I’ve been very, very lucky!”
Throughout her 30-year career with the USET and the USEF, Sally held a variety of positions. Now in her 70s, Sally recently left her role as a full-time employee to become an independent contractor with the USEF. “I have enjoyed all my jobs and don’t have a favorite,” Sally said. “My heart is in sport and I love watching horses and going to horse shows!”
An accomplished equestrian, Sally started out showing hunters, then began eventing because she was intrigued by the process of training a horse to do all three phases. Her success in eventing resulted in being short-listed for the 1968 Olympic Games eventing team. Sally also rode in Ladies timber races and was the Delaware Valley Ladies Point-to-Point Champion in 1972 and 1973 on Evening Mail. She’s still involved in foxhunting and is the currently the chairman of the Essex Fox Hounds Hunt Committee.
How did your horse career start?
I grew up in Monmouth County, New Jersey. I’m a twin and grew up riding ponies with my sister on my aunt and uncle’s farm where they raised Thoroughbreds. We also foxhunted and showed hunters. We showed locally and later went to Devon, the National and other shows.
How long have you been at the US Equestrian Team headquarters in Gladstone?
I’ve been coming to the USET since 1968 as either a rider, volunteer or employee. It’s unchanged, except that there’s a golf course where the cross-country course used to be.
Favorite thing about being there throughout the years?
Driving in. The USET is a very special place. Being able to work there never gets old!
What other roles have you had in the equestrian world?
I’ve been a USEF licensed eventing official since 1993. I have my S Eventing Judge and Technical Delegate licenses. I dropped my Eventing Jumping Course Designer license two years ago because I felt I wasn’t doing enough of it to stay as current as I’d like to be. In addition, I’ve been very involved with USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program since it started in 2008. I’m still on the committee, but passed the Chairman’s torch this year to Amy Center.
Favorite experiences when you were competing?
Burghley 1967 on Evening Mail. I finished 6th or 7th, but the favorite part was that Mark Phillips and I were the only two to ‘max’ the course, i.e. go clear round steeplechase and cross-country with no time penalties. I was such a novice, I wasn’t trying to go that fast; I was just letting my horse find a good rhythm and going with that!
Favorite horse shows you competed in or traveled to?
Aachen, Dublin, Rome in my role as jumping team leader. How lucky I was to go these amazing shows!
What do you like about being part of the horse world?
Having many, many friends in many disciplines and being able to watch so many horses.
What are your plans for the future?
To stay involved, wherever that leads me.
If you weren’t involved with the horse world, what career do you think you would have picked?
Probably art or history. I love sporting art and American history around the time of the Founders.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
What inspires you?
Being around creative people who are able to think outside the box
What talents do you feel you have?
Team builder, organization, lack of bias, ability to listen
What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?
Cable cashmere sweaters
What three items can usually be found in your refrigerator?
Wine, yogurt and bagels
What’s your favorite meal?
Medium hamburger, plain (no cheese/bacon, etc.), and French fries
What would be the best gift in the world?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To be able to be ‘beamed up’ to another place
What’s something everyone should try at least once?
How would you like people to remember you?
Approachable, no agenda, listens
Sally Ike at Fair Hill
Photo by Nancy Jaffer
Sally and Evening Mail in 1965 in Florida.
Photo by Hank Cohen