Leonard King owes a lot more to horses than a 45-year career with the Devon Horse Show.
He met his wife, Pat, at a fox hunt.
"She is a lot better rider than I ever was," King said.
That may be, but King has had his share of equine success, and he expects to add to it beginning Thursday night with the opening of the 115th Devon Horse Show and Country Fair.
The chairman of the horse show for the last six years and the event's president for 10 years before that, King is one of show jumping's luminaries. The resumé of the Malvern resident dates from the 1970s and features a half-dozen roles as "founder" of this, "president" of that, and "coproducer" of several key events.
If it has been part of the Devon Horse Show or the show-jumping world since the mid-1960s, the 79-year-old King likely was part of it, too.
"My favorite memories are about the people who have been here," King said of the Devon show that runs through June 5. "Bruce Springsteen shows up incognito, with a hat pulled down over his head. His daughter rides here. Glenn Close was here. Dwight Eisenhower was here."
But, King said, the extra-special people are the volunteers who run the show. Unlike many other horse shows, King said, Devon is run almost entirely by volunteers, and that not only helps direct more money to its beneficiary, Bryn Mawr Hospital, it creates a bond between the people and the event.
"There is something special about a volunteer, our volunteers," King said. "Without them, we wouldn't have a Devon Horse Show like we know it."
Next Thursday, King, along with judge John Ammerman and Good Twist, a gray stallion show-jumping star, will be inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame before the $100,000 Devon Grand Prix.
As usual, the show opens with the Junior Weekend that features equitation classes on Thursday and ponies and junior hunter and jumper classes on Friday and Saturday.
The Carriage Pleasure Drive starts the adult week on Sunday. First and Second Year Green, Regular Working, Green Conformation, and Conformation classes compete Monday through Wednesday.
Next Thursday's highlight is the $100,000 Wells Fargo Grand Prix of Devon at 8 p.m. The Amateur Owner Hunters and Jumpers and Local Hunters round out the week on June 3 and 4, with the $50,000 Open Jumper Stakes on June 4.
The event closes June 5 with the $25,000 International Hunter Derby.
Rain or shine, expect the show to go on.
"We've been flooded many times, but we don't stop," King said. "We've been fortunate to weather the bad weather. Nothing can stop the Devon Horse Show."