How It All Began – Pony Club to FEI
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Sharon McCusker began riding for fun as a youngster, but turned serious when she joined the Pony Club at age 13. Eventing became Sharon’s discipline and she pursued the sport avidly. By age 16, Sharon was a participant in the Young Riders program as a Three Day Event Rider and competed at the 1978 North American Young Riders Championship. At age 18, Sharon was long-listed with the United States Equestrian Team (USET) for the Three-Day Team and trained with legendary coach Jack Le Goff.
After high school, in 1980, Sharon and her two Three Day horses moved to Delaware so that she could train with Mike Plumb while she attended the University of Delaware. During her junior and senior years, Sharon took a sabbatical from riding to complete her degree in Philosophy and graduated in 1984.
In the beginning of her professional career, Sharon concentrated primarily on her own riding. In 1991, she purchased a big chestnut gelding named Peter the Great – a former mount of Michael Klimke. “He was my first really good horse,” Sharon notes.
Peter the Great was trained to Third Level when Sharon acquired him, but with the help of Gunnar Ostergaard and Carol Lavell, she was able to show the talented gelding in the small tour in 1996 and 1997, and ultimately debuted him at Grand Prix in 1998. In 1999, Sharon and Peter the Great qualified as one of the top 12 combinations in the nation to compete at Gladstone in the National Grand Prix Championship. In 2000, Peter the Great was ranked sixth in the USEF Grand Prix national standings. Sharon sold Peter the Great in 2001.
In the Fall of 2007, Sharon acquired Juli Sherif, her current FEI mount. Sharon brought the gelding from Prix St. Georges to his Grand Prix debut in 2009 and has shown him successfully during the 2009 show season.
Sharon has received encouraging feedback on Juli Sherif from top U.S. and European trainers including Conrad Schumacher, Peter Markne, and Michael Poulin. “They really feel he’s a 70-plus horse and a team caliber mount,” Sharon recounts. “That means a lot. I’ll keep working on making him as good as I can this year and see if he can get good enough scores to be considered for the 2010 WEG.”