Saturday, February 23, 2008 was a thrilling day at the Florida Dressage Concours at Fox Lea Farm, owned by the Aldrich family, in Venice, Florida. Mr. Chester “Chet” Braun, and his beloved equine partner, Secret Ice, “Prince”, completed their dressage test and became the newest addition to the mere handful of people anywhere to receive the Century Club Award from the Dressage Foundation. This award is for riders and horses whose combined ages equal or excels one hundred. Mr. Braun is eighty five and his horse is twenty.
photosbybarb.com: Judge Lois Yukins, with Chester Braun and Secret Ice with trainer Bob Braren and Technical Deligate, Nancy Holsing
A crowd of fans turned out to cheer this gentleman through his fantastic showing achievement. Chet additionally had a team of professionals on hand. Prince is boarded at Cheval Center in Sarasota, Florida. The people from this stable transported the horse to and from the show and literally had a “spit shine” on his glistening coat. This grooming precision along with his beautiful button braids, had the horse looking elegant. Chet’s wife of more than fifty years, Betty, assisted with making sure Chet looked dapper in his show attire, and had him to the correct location at the right time. Chet and Prince have been in training for more than a decade with Robert “Bob” Braren of Marco Island, Florida. Bob admitted that his heart was jumping in his chest as Chet and Prince entered the ring in front of international dressage judge, Lois Yukins.
This award has been Chet’s goal for some time, and both Chet and the horse have been battling some unfortunate medical issues which have previously kept them out of the show ring. Knowing this, Bob was anxious that this would be the day they would meet with their deserved success. At Chet’s final salute, no one could have been prouder of the pair than Bob. Chet and Prince were absolutely beaming. This sentiment, however, was shared by all in attendance, and echoed in the judge’s written test comments, “well done, congratulations!”
Prince is a thoroughbred who was never raced, but who possesses a magnificent bloodline being the grandson of the famous Secretariat. He and Chet have been partners for fourteen years and share a bond of love and respect for each other. Chet exclaims that he “could not have a more devoted horse, especially for a not so young man.”
Chet has a fascinating and important background in addition to his love of dressage. His devotion to horses may have come to him from his father who served in the horse cavalry during World War I. Although Chet originally planned on becoming a veterinarian, his plans changed due to World War II. Chet attended and graduated from The United States Military Academy at West Point as an Air Force pilot. Chet became an experimental test pilot for McDonnell Aircraft (now Boeing) in St. Louis. He rose to become the Vice President and General Manager of the F-15 Eagle. Among other notable achievements, Chet was the test pilot for the ejector seats on aircraft as well as the first pilot to test air to air refueling.
Chet enjoyed his triumphant return to the show ring, and is currently making plans to return.