You can’t keep a good man down. And if that man creates something good, you can’t keep that down either.
The proof is in the Boston Equestrian Classic. Don Little may have gone on to greener pastures but the show - his show - goes on. Little died on Feb. 29 at age 77 from injuries sustained after an accident while competing in the Masters Classic at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Fla.
This year’s first competitors at the Equestrian Classic will warm up their mounts in the early morning of Thursday, Sept. 6 and as afternoon shadows lengthen on Sunday, Sept. 9 Grand Prix riders will be packing their saddles for home. Over $110,000 of prize money will leave in the pockets of the event’s winners.
“(It’s) business as usual,” said Don Little’s daughter-in-law, Holly Little, who jumped with both feet into the effort of keeping the event alive.
“Onward and upward,” Little added, with the spirit typical of the people Don Little surrounded himself with.
“We thought about taking a year off but we figured the general audience wouldn’t understand. (And) we like a good party. It’s just a good time,” she added, sounding not unlike former Master of Hounds himself.
Enthusiasm and drive for carrying on the sporting tradition that Little so loved runs high - but not without the sting of regret.
“It’s hard for me to talk about all of that,” Holly Little admitted at mention of her father-in-law’s accident last winter. Though his life was ended by exertion on a jumping course pursuing his passion, his presence is sorely missed.
“We want to honor his legacy and hard work and keep (the Boston Equestrian Classic) moving forward,” Holly explained adding, “It would be an absolute shame to lose all that.”
Donald V. Little’s legacy is in good hands. In addition to being the mother of his grandchildren, Holly Little is a horsewoman. While growing up on the South Shore she showed hunt seat and participated in the United States Equestrian Federation’s Young Rider Program. Eventually she met Little.
“At 18 I took care of his racehorses,” she said. “(His son Doo and I) dated for 10 years.” Laughing she added, “I had plenty of time to head for the hills.”
Eighty some odd days away from the Boston Equestrian Classic’s opening day Little is at work securing sponsors. In a pause enroute to a meeting, she let on that thus far it hasn’t been difficult. Many like John Deere and Dover Saddlery, Taj, Boston, Maestranzi Brothers and Depot Liquors to name a few were quick to get onboard.
In addition to squaring away which businesses will have their logos boldly emblazoned on Grand Prix jumps, Little and her colleagues are addressing other concerns.
“We really want to get the social aspect going,” said Style Boston’s Anthony Corey who is contributing time and expertise to the event. Though himself a long-time horseman and Myopia foxhunter, Corey understands that the Boston Equestrian Classic is about more than horses and jaw-dropping jumps.
“It’s a social venue,” said Corey, noting that the event presents a great deal of beauty - beautiful horses at the peak of condition - and people often dressed to the nines.
“We really want to sell seats for the Champagne Luncheon.”
“We want people to know that it offers great food, a great view of the Grand Prix course and a lot of fun.”