Renowned cross country course designer Roger Haller has died following his battle with cancer, aged 70.
Haller, the son of Elliot Haller and Jean Haller Reid, was born with a natural equestrian instinct and developed a love for eventing at a young age. At nine-years-old, he began competing in equitation classes. By 17-years-old, he found himself riding at the United States Equestrian Team (USET) headquarters. In 1972, he was selected as the alternate rider for the Olympic squad in Munich.
His passion for the sport led him to become one of the most instrumental figures in eventing. As a competitor, course designer, event organiser, judge, and technical delegate, no one made an impact on eventing like Haller.
In his early 20’s, Haller was asked to serve on the board of the US Eventing Association (USEA), the board of the US Pony Clubs, and the American Horse Show Association’s (AHSA) Events Committee. Encouraged by his mentor Jack Fritz, Haller later became a judge, technical delegate, event organizer, and course designer.
Haller pioneered the Essex Hose Trials in 1968. He served as the event’s first show organiser, first course designer and course builder. A year later, he became the Director and Course Designer of the Woodstock Three-Day Event. In 1978, Haller was appointed the course designer for the World Championships in Lexington and nearly two decades later, he designed the course at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. This made him the third person ever to design the courses at a World Championship and Olympic Games.
In addition to course designing, he officiated in 46 different states and 14 countries, including most major events in the United States such as the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. He was a technical delegate for 12 CCI4* international events, including Badminton, Burghley, Adelaide and two Pan American Games.
Haller played a major role in revolutionising the sport. As a member of the FEI’s Eventing Committee, he partnered with Hugh Thomas to redraft the eventing rules. This propelled the sport into the modern age where the star system was implemented internationally.
Haller served as Vice President of the USEA. He was a longstanding member of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) High Performance Committee, the USEF Licensed Officials Committee, and the USEF Eventing Technical Committee, serving as its chairman for two years. Outside of the States, he served four years on the FEI Eventing Technical Committee, two of which he was Vice Chairman. Most recently, he was the Executive Director of the Pan American Equestrian Confederation’s General Assembly. The USEA recognised his contribution to the sport when they inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
Roger is survived by his wife, Ann Haller, his sister, Barbra Pace, and step-siblings Sidney Funston and Richard Reid.