Equestrians lost a devoted servant when James K. Ligon, past president of Pony Club and beloved announcer of equestrian events, passed away Monday, June 4, following a brief battle with lung cancer. Ligon was 65.
Born Sept. 25, 1947, James K. “Jim” Ligon was a lifelong equestrian, graduating with a B rating from the Maryland Region’s Redland Hunt Pony Club (read a few of his Pony Club memories, including day-long trail rides through his hometown of Sandy Spring, Md., in the Chronicle of the Horse’s “Hunting Dos and Don’ts”).
He earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1972, practiced with Miller, Miller and Canby in Rockville, Md., and went on to serve as Senior Vice President of Mortgage and Lending with the Sandy Spring National Bank. He worked at Lawyers Title in Rockville before his retirement.
But Ligon’s passion was always firmly rooted in horse sports, serving perennially on committees of the United States Pony Club, including two stints as the organization’s president (1978-1980 and 1987-1990). He summed up his sentiments on Pony Club’s character-building value in a quote on the organization’s website:
Responsibility is a natural result of having the complete care of a living creature, and learning to care for it properly. Consequences of acts are faithfully reflected by either a nicker of recognition, or by the pinning back of ears. The competitions offered develop sportsmanship and maturity. All of these characteristics, once established, carry over into other areas of life.
He was an enthusiastic proponent of Pony Club’s mounted games discipline, coaching several national championship teams and serving as the USPC Games Chair in addition to donating the President’s Cup—a trophy awarded annually to the winners of a hotly contested Pony Club competition held alongside the Fair Hill CCI***.
President’s Cup, 2010:
Ligon co-founded the Iron Bridge Hounds Pony Club in 1980 and served as District Commissioner for both the Redland and Iron Bridge clubs. For his years of devoted service, he received the USPC Founders Award in 1998, and was named a Pony Club Legend at the organization’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2004.
Both in and outside Pony Club, Ligon’s distinctive voice and easy-going sense of humor were instantly recognizable on the competition field, where he was an expert, sought-after announcer of equestrian events along the East Coast, and a staple of Area II eventing.
“His steady voice was informative and comforting as he announced riders during the [cross-country] phase at Waredaca’s events. Jim was also a constant supporter of Pony Club, Area II events and will be greatly missed,” said the organizers of Waredaca, hosts of numerous competitions and Area II events, on their Facebook page.
Following his diagnosis with lung cancer in January, Ligon underwent chemotherapy and went into remission, but succumbed to pneumonia the evening of Monday, June 4.
He is survived by his aunt and uncle, Martha and John Ligon, sister Effie S. Ligon, nieces Kellas Weschler, Jennifer Ligon and Jessica Ligon, nephews Markley Ligon, Daniel Ligon-Bruno, Lucas Ligon-Bruno, William Ligon-Bruno, and Gordon Ligon, many cousins, and three great nieces.
A memorial service is being planned in the weeks ahead, and Pony Club also plans to print a tribute to Ligon’s legacy in the fall issue of their magazine.