Carrie Srima, the Founder of The American Competitive Trail Horse Association has a past that makes one wonder…can anyone be more devoted to the horse, even if you are born and raised in the Bronx of New York City?
At the age of 8 she attended Camp Wish in upstate NY. It was during her time at Camp Wish that Carrie was able to gain close contact and indeed start her winning way (she was Equitation Champion in 1954 at the age of 8). Camp Wish remains one of Carrie’s most cherished experiences and memories.
Doing whatever it would take, while being raised in NYC, Carrie sought early training on retired New York City Police Horses from 1953-1960. What an ideal desensitized animal for a young impressionable girl to get her foundation early childhood horse experiences from. Carrie witnessed first hand the wonderfully talented police trainers, several of whom were Olympic Pentathlon Winners.
Way before the gentle training techniques of today became main stream, Carrie watched these highly evolved trainers work horses with behavioral techniques and skills that would be the envy of even today’s trainers. She witnessed stallions being worked at liberty much like a performing circus horse responds to verbal and body cues. Never was a horse treated roughly but rather always with respect. You best be respectful as well if you were going to hang with this crowd!! If you were there, you were working for the privilege of witnessing the spectacle before you. Polishing tack and boots, grooming, grooming and more grooming….one could feel the military presence and profound respect for the horses of these gentlemen. Carrie soon became noticed and was trained by these gifted men that were also NYC Mounted Policemen. Who could say no to a little red-headed kid always hanging around, polishing tack and boots, grooming their wonderful mounts and displaying an incurable passion for the horse?
Carrie learned well and in her teens rode hunters and jumpers showing with good success in Westchester County, N.Y.
In College Carrie maintained her love affair with riding and the horse and became Captain of The Farleigh Dickinson Riding Team. This era was capped off with the honor of being bestowed America’s First Intercollegiate All America Champion in the sport of Hunter Jumper Equitation. Throughout her college years Carrie showed Hunter Jumpers…but always somebody else’s. It wasn’t until getting married at the age of 21 that Carrie finally got her first horse. A rescued wiley Arab she affectionately called WART (the nickname Merlin gave King Arthur in Camelot).
Carrie quickly became friends with her Colorado neighbor Ruth Tyree of Endurance Riding fame (the oldest woman in history to win the Tevis Cup…in her 70’s!). Despite her love of “catching air” on horses, Carrie developed a profound respect for trail riding and noticed what an excellent compliment it was in her training regimens. She competed in NATRC in the early 70’s winning numerous Sweepstakes and Championships but into her 30’s the jumping passion took center stage again. Carrie showed coast to coast and won enough silver to replace Notre Dame’s golden dome, should they wish to change to silver! She was the 1992 high point CWHJA Champion…high point Quarter horse and continued to support her passion with teaching and training.
Under the tutelage of an impressive list of who’s who in the Horse world of the era such as George Morris (winner of several Olympic gold medals) and other Olympians including Rodney Jenkins, Ann Kursinsky and Bernie Traurig, Carrie refined her skills. She rode with Pentathlon Gold Medal Winners Colonel Don Nance, Robby Robertson and Hugh Nevins for many years and took that training with her into the show ring.
Carrie’s “jumping horse days” culminated with the ownership of her own stables, Whitefield Farms. With a field of talented equine athletes in the barn, virtually every award in the hunter jumper world was fair game. She even dabbled in breeding and racing. Carrie’s crowning achievement was being the owner and trainer of a double Gold Medal Winner in the Olympic Trials of 1976 and having one of her promising geldings eventually sold for $1.2 million dollars. Carrie’s personal mount, Winter Rain, went on to become a Medal/Maclay winner.
Carrie’s focus was returned to her love of the open trail, with a promise from her husband to ride alongside her. Thus it went, from NATRC venues across the country, to endless long adventurous overnight rides into country few had ever seen. Both now in their being in their 60’s, the long rides are not so appealing. Thus ACTHA was born….the rest, as they say, is history. ACTHA is quickly becoming one of the largest and most influential registries and sanctioning bodies for trail riding in the USA.
“It is like Carrie has been groomed to be at our helm from birth” – Tom Scrima, Carrie’s husband.