Hal Vita, Sr.

Upon his return from the military, Hal Vita entered the Connecticut Governor’s Horse Guard, where he learned disciplined military training under the United States Cavalry Training Manual.

His skill grew in the Horse Guard until Mr. Vita became an instructor himself in the unit, training recruit riders and jumping students. By 1960 Hal was teaching students on his own according to the Caprilli, forward seat system.

In early 1962 Mr. Vita taught at the Martin School of Horsemanship, owned by Mr. Harry Martin.

Seeing his professional future as a full time horseman, Vita broke ground on his own 22 acres of land in Somers, CT to build a stable, the first structure in the complex that was to become Shallowbrook. The dynamic force that brought the concept of Shallowbrook from being a young man’s dream to that first step of bringing the hope into reality was, and is, Hal Vita’s great ability to build confidence in his associates and students. It is the Vita spirit that raises the pride of accomplishment within all who associate themselves with the Shallowbrook experience. Other great equestrians were impressed by the Vita drive and vitality.

After meeting and impressing the internationally celebrated equestrian and trainer, Waldemar Seunig in the United States, Hal Vita was personally invited by the master to join him in Germany to train in Dressage as Seunig’s protege.

Later his wanderlust for more knowledge would take Hal and members of his family and students to Ireland to study the traditions and protocols of the Irish Hunt.

Upon his return from Europe he organized the very first polo competition in the area and was the key figure in bringing indoor polo in New England into national prominence.

His horses and teams have repeatedly been recognized in the quality of riding, the quality of training and the high degree of courage and sportsmanship to be found under the blue and white colors of Shallowbrook.

In 1968 Hal Vita pursued another avenue in equestrianship, formalizing his several years of interest in polo in the fostering of that sport at the University of Connecticut.

It was Vita who trained the original players, developed the UCONN ponies and inspired a group of novices to reach beyond what could have been expected to win over every precedent to become National Intercollegiate Polo Champions in 1972 and 1973.

Other educational accomplishments by Mr. Vita included lecturing in horsemanship at University of Connecticut, University of Maine, University of Rhode Island, University Horse Center in Lawrence, Kansas and at numerous clinics in the northeast.

The Connecticut Hunter Jumper Association drew Hal Vita’s interest and he became involved with its growth and development, rising quickly to its presidency and remaining in that honorable post for four years.

One of the driving forces in the effort to locate a bona fide hunt club in the Connecticut River Valley, Hal Vita joined with other hunt enthusiasts to form the Connecticut Valley Hunt Club.

Mr. Vita has been a recognized American Horse Show Association judge since 1966 and is still very active on the show circuit in the United States.

Since 1966 Mr. Vita has been qualifying riders for the National Finals at Madison Square Garden and the National Horse Show at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The students and riders involved with the Shallowbrook way of horsemanship have all, at one time or another been lifted from the depths of disappointment or vaulted into higher levels of accomplishments by the strong, unerring urging of Hal Vita, exhorting each with the demand…”When you feel that you cannot possibly go on or drive yourself any further, reach down in that little black bag…. And succeed.

Since 1962 – 2002, Hal Vita’s love and excitement for his life’s dream – Shallowbrook – has never waned.

From supervising his teaching staff, to keeping a watchful eye on all the horses, enlarging his exotic zoo with the new member, Mr. Casey, a 3 month old zebra, to —— polo games and demanding more from his players, he is still the driving force of Shallowbrook.

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