Prix de Villes History
In 1955, renowned horseman Laddie Andahazy came to Lake Erie College and changed the face of campus forever. President Paul Weaver gave Andahazy two years to prove the worth of an equestrian program. Armed with vision, enthusiasm and a box of tools, Andahazy transformed a small shed (where Fowler Hall stands today on the main campus) into a 12 horse stable. The program grew quickly, and in 1958 the College acquired Morley Farm.
With the help of local architects, Andahazy planned a first-class educational and competitive facility. The George M. Humphrey Equestrian Center officially opened in 1971, and in 1973 the College created an equestrian major. Laddie was an inspiring and positive role model for his students. "If you can imagine it, it can happen," he enthused. "You have to have the thought first, the inspiration, then the perspiration. Anything can happen if you believe it can." One of his most memorable pieces of advice became, "Make the sign of the cross and go!" With his guidance, riders learned to challenge themselves and reaching beyond their boundaries. Andahazy drew on his knowledge of music, dance and art to broaden the physical and aesthetic sensibilities of his riders.
As director of the equestrian program, Andahazy was the driving force behind the entire concept of the Jumper Prix de Villes or "Prize of the Cities," initiated in 1966. Shortly thereafter, he introduced the Dressage Prix de Villes. Based on a team competition, the Prix de Villes format not only allowed competitors the opportunity to compete under FEI Rules (Federation Equestrian Internationale), which was another first in the horse world, but it also laid claim to drawing some of the top names in the grand prix show jumping world including Michael Matz, Norman Dello Joio, Donald Cheska, Conrad Homfeld and Bernie Traurig.
Andahazy always advocated versatility whether in horsemanship or life interests. He was an American Horse Show Association judge in 10 disciplines, including western, dressage, hunters and jumpers, carrying his licensing well into his late 80's. He also held Canadian and European Federation judges cards. Andahazy was responsible for founding the Cleveland Chapter of the Professional Horseman's Association and served on the board of the American Horse Show Association Hunter and Jumper Committee. In 1975 he was nominated for the AHSA annual Horseman of the Year award.
He was instrumental in founding the Western Reserve Carriage Association and introducing dressage to Ohio. Andahazy encouraged the introduction of vaulting in the United States and not only instructed, but arranged several vaulting performances at both Lake Erie College and several grand prix jumping competitions over the years. He was also avidly involved in promoting foxhunting and was instrumental in assisting both the Grand River and the Chagrin Valley Hunts in the implementation of their programs.
Laddie Anahazy was a renaissance man, a philosopher and a horseman for the ages. Lake Erie College owes him a debt of gratitude for shaping and guiding the Lake Erie College equestrian program into one of the premier equestrian programs in the country. We are all part of his enduring legacy.
We thank Candy Lawrence and the Lake Erie College archives for information in this overview.