Joe Alfano, Dr. Csaba Magassy and McLain Ward Inducted into Pennsylvania National Horse Show Hall of Fame

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Joe Alfano (pictured second from right) was one of three individuals inducted into the PNHS Hall of Fame for 2023. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania National Horse Show proudly inducted Joe Alfano, Csaba Magassy and McLain Ward into the PNHS Hall of Fame, sponsored by The Wheeler Family, during this year’s horse show, held October 12-22, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA.

Since 2013, and thanks to the support of The Wheeler Family, induction into the PNHS Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed annually upon select individuals in recognition of their extraordinary efforts and dedication to excellence in the equine industry and at the PNHS.

For Joe Alfano, his commitment to the PNHS began more than 50 years ago. In 1966, Alfano began an apprenticeship under former PNHS farrier, Larry Bender, before being drafted into the U.S. Army. During his time at Fort Sam Houston, Alfano worked on many of the U.S. pentathlon horses before being sent to Vietnam. He served as the last official farrier of the U.S. Army and was discharged the day before the start of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show that year. Alfano arrived back home in Pennsylvania just in time to get to work at the show!

Jennifer Alfano, Joe Alfano and PNHS Executive Director Susie Shirk. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Today, Alfano has been the official farrier of the PNHS for more than five decades, and he frequently shoes more than 50 horses per day during the now 11 days of competition. He takes immense pride in the trust that riders and owners have in him and his team. 

“Being the PNHS farrier is one of my bucket list things; it’s a great honor just to be here,” said Alfano.

Alfano’s induction into the Hall of Fame took place on Saturday, October 21, just prior to the start of the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National. Also inducted that evening – shortly before he earned the win in the grand prix – was renowned U.S. show jumper and Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward.

To many, Ward is a man who needs little introduction. A lifelong horseman, Ward began riding at a young age with encouragement from his parents, Barney Ward and Kristine Lindsay, both of whom were industry professionals. In 1990, at just 14 years old, Ward became the youngest rider to win the USEF Show Jumping Derby, a win that was quickly followed by the USET Medal Finals title just a few weeks later.

McLain Ward and Susie Shirk. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

After turning professional, Ward became the youngest rider in U.S. show jumping history to reach the $1 million mark in professional earnings at just 24 years old. Ward is a five-time member of the United States Olympic Show Jumping Team, most recently helping to secure the team silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics aboard Contagious. Ward also helped Team USA to earn a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2018 aboard HH Azur, and gold medals at both the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, both aboard the legendary Sapphire. In addition, Ward was a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Show Jumping Team at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon in 2018 aboard Clinta, marking the third WEG medal of his career. Just a year prior, Ward won the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha aboard HH Azur in his 17th World Cup Final appearance.

Most recently, Ward rode HH Azur to victories in both the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva and the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters – two of the most esteemed grand prix events in the world.

Ward’s victory in the 2023 $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National marked consecutive victories in the class from him and his winning mount, First Lady.

McLain Ward. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Dr. Csaba Magassy was fittingly posthumously inducted into the PNHS Hall of Fame on Hunt Night, Monday, October 16, as the night was one that was most special to Magassy.

Magassy immigrated to the Canary Islands from Hungary during the second World War, before later relocating to Nebraska to study medicine at Creighton University. After completing his general surgery residency at the Washington Hospital Center, Magassy enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served for five years as a flight surgeon for the Thunderbirds. Magassy then returned to the U.S. and completed a plastic surgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and opened his own practice in 1972. He was highly regarded as an accomplished and devoted plastic surgeon, pilot and horseman.

Dr. Csaba Magassy was inducted posthumously into the PNHS Hall of Fame. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

In addition to being known as one of the Washington, D.C. area’s best plastic surgeons, Magassy was an active member of the horse show community. His roots in the horse show community began when he met his former wife, Frances “Junior” Magassy. Junior Magassy – whose family owned and operated their own farm – was an avid competitor on the circuit and encouraged Csaba Magassy to join the Potomac Hounds Hunt, of which he was an active member for many years. 

His philanthropic nature led him to join the foundation boards of both the Washington International Horse Show and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.

Says Junior Magassy, “He loved anything to do with horses; it was just a passion.”

Csaba Magassy’s participation in the Potomac Hounds led him to also frequently participate as an exhibitor at the PNHS on Hunt Night. In 2016, at 78 years old, Csaba Magassy won the Gentleman’s Hunter Under Saddle Class aboard his own homebred, Thunderbird, and in 2017, he received the reserve honor aboard another homebred, Thunderbride.

Members of the Magassy family were on hand for Dr. Csaba Magassy’s induction. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Alfano, Magasy and Ward join 18 other members, including the following annual inductees:

  • 2013: Gerry Hempt and Frank Chapot
  • 2014: Irvin S. Naylor and Steve Stephens
  • 2015: Mary “Polly” Gingrich Brand Caswell and Rodney Jenkins
  • 2016: Mary Mairs Chapot and Harry Rittenhouse Gill
  • 2017: Joe Fargis and John Sterling
  • 2018: Jack Stedding and Leslie Burr Howard
  • 2019: Rick and Didi Hornberger and Idle Dice
  • 2021: Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden and John Franzreb III
  • 2022: Sallie Busch Wheeler, Kenneth Wheeler, Sr. and Betty Oare

The Hall of Fame inductees are showcased each year at the PNHS in a Hall of Fame exhibit, presented by the Wheeler Family. 

To learn more about the PA National Horse Show, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious indoor horse shows, visit PAnational.org.

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