A retired professor of history at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, "Captain Jack" has volunteered his expertise and countless hours to the development and promotion of equestrian sports and organizations. Read more
Fritz rode hunters and jumpers in his youth. As a student at Princeton (NJ) University in the late 1940s, he developed an interest in dressage. He rode with the Princeton Riding Club, which was run by Anita Hazek, an Austrian native who had trained at the Spanish Riding School after World War II. At the riding club he also had the opportunity to study with Major Deszo Szalgyi, a graduate of the Hungarian Cavalry School.
After college, Fritz entered military service. While stationed in Tokyo during the Korean War, he rode regularly at the Imperial Palace, taking instruction from two members of the 1932 Japanese Olympic dressage and eventing teams. In the spring of 1952, he participated in a show-jumping competition that included Crown Prince Akahito, who later became the emperor of Japan.
Fritz has been a driving force behind several equestrian organizations for more than 50 years. In 1951, when the United States Equestrian Team (USET) was established, he joined and soon assumed a leadership role. By 1965, he was the director of the new organization. From 1974 to 1989, he served as the USET's executive vice president. Later he would go on to a volunteer role of the USET's assistant secretary treasurer.
Fritz became similarly involved in the United States Pony Clubs. He joined the USPC in 1955, a year after its founding, and soon became its president. Through his friendship with Alexander Mackay-Smith, a foxhunting enthusiast who was the founding editor of the English-riding world's newsweekly bible The Chronicle of the Horse, Fritz became involved in the sport of eventing. He would help found the United States Combined Training Association (now the U.S. Eventing Association) in 1959, and would serve as the USCTA's governor, vice president, and advisory-committee member.
As if that weren't enough, Fritz has been active in the United States Equestrian Federation (formerly the American Horse Shows Association) since the 1960s. He served as both chair and a member of the AHSA Dressage and Eventing Committees, and played an important role in establishing the AHSA's rules for those disciplines. A driving enthusiast to boot, Fritz is also a founding member of the Gladstone (NJ) Driving Association.
Fritz helped to establish several regional dressage organizations in the U.S. in the early 1970s, including the Eastern States Dressage and Combined Training Association and the Delaware Valley Combined Training Association. He lent his support to the movement to establish a national dressage organization and attended the founding meeting of the United States Dressage Federation in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1973. USDF founder Lowell Boomer called on Fritz's leadership skills and knowledge of the equestrian community's political workings to chair the proceedings and keep order. With his keen sense of humor and his air of authority, Fritz inspired the attendees to work together to lay the groundwork for the new organization.
Like Hans Moeller, Fritz was a strong supporter of young riders. He believed that young riders in North America needed a continental championships similar to those held in Europe, and the creation of the North American Young Riders' Championships in the 1970s is largely the result of his efforts. The eventing competition debuted first, in 1974, with dressage joining the NAYRC in 1981 and jumping, in 1983.
Somehow Fritz also found the time to earn his judge's and technical delegate's licenses. He became one of the first dressage and eventing judges in the U.S. in the 1950s. He later earned FEI "I" credentials in both sports, officiating at the 1984 Olympic Games, the 1987 Pan American Games, and six European Pony Riders Continental Championships.
"Captain Jack's" endless energy and "get it done" attitude was a huge driving force behind the advancement of equestrian sports in the U.S., and for his contributions to dressage the USDF inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2000.