Hunter Harrison, Giant in Horse Sports & Global Transportation, Dies at Age of 73

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Hunter Harrison. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

WELLINGTON, Florida, Dec.16, 2017–Hunter Harrison, a major force in global transportation as the head of some of the world’s largest railroad companies and a larger than life figure in horse sports, died Saturday at the age of 73.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that E. Hunter Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer of CSX, died today in Wellington, Florida, due to unexpectedly severe complications from a recent illness,” the freight railroad company said in a statement.

Hunter’s Double H Farms was a backer of jumper rider McLain Ward of the United States and No.2 in the world, was a one of the Wellington Equestrian Partners that owned and operated the Winter Equestrian Festival and Global Dressage Festival in Wellington and who directed advertising campaigns supporting jumping competitions world wide.

Horses with Hunter’s prefix of “HH” such as Azur were ridden by McLain to the World Cup title in Omaha in 2017 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Hunter was a major supporter of moves by the partnership to spend millions of dollars to create the Global Dressage Festival that has revolutionized the sport in the Americas.

Hunter began his railroad career in Memphis, Tennessee and led an overhaul of the American tailroad business.

He was so successful that he was hired to take over CN when the railroad company was privatized in Canada. He was named Canadian chief executive of the year twice, the first American to be so honored.

CN became a major sponsor of the world famous Spruce Meadows jumping shows in Calgary, Alberta and of the early years of the Global Champions Tour.

He retired from CN but a year ago became chief executive of CP, based in Jacksonville, Florida and undertook massive changes to streamline operations of the railroad company.

Hunter took medical leave on Thursday this week. His reputation was so great that value of CP was cut by $4 billion on news of the medical issues, details of which were not disclosed.

CP said that Hunter had been suffering from an undisclosed medical condition that forced him to work from home some days and use an oxygen machine at times, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“With the passing of Hunter Harrison, CSX has suffered a major loss,” board chairman Edward Kelly said.

Throughout his corporate career, Hunter maintained a high profile in horse sports.

He told dressage=news.com that horse sports provided an affordable platform for global promotion that benefited both the corporate sponsor and horse sports.

He is survived by his widow, Jeannie D. Harrison, and daughter, Cayce, a jumper rider who married the rider Quentin Judge in October 2011. Cayce and Quentin had taken over much of the Double H farm operations in both Wellington and Ridgefield, Connecticut.