October 27, 2006 -- November 20, 2004, was the day that Caitlin Ben-Dror was scheduled to begin riding Anne Sparks Whitten's Prix St. Georges stallion Pik L and make her bid for the North American Young Riders' Championship. But it was not to be. That morning, on her way home to spend her 19th birthday with her mother and share the exciting news, Caitlin lost her life in a fatal automobile accident.
Ben-Dror's life was horses, says her mother, Margaret Hawkins: "It was in her being, and her passion never wavered." Under her mother's training, Caitlin took a $500 horse to Fourth Level. She found herself a working student position in Holland, and with some of the money that had been set aside for college tuition, brought home a horse, Navarro, for whom she had high hopes.
"Cesar [Parra, trainer of Pik L] saw her ride once," says Hawkins, "and offered her a job to start the next day. It was heaven for her."
Hawkins says her daughter was an inspiration, and always ready to help other children, especially those who, like her, did not have a lot of resources. In that spirit, Hawkins has set up the Caitlin Ben-Dror Memorial Scholarship Fund as a way to keep her memory alive in the equestrian community. Benefit shows at Hawkins's Whispering Spring Farm have raised the seed money for the fund. Noel Williams was awarded the first Caitlin Ben-Dror Memorial Scholarship.
For more information on the fund, contact Margaret M. Hawkins, Whispering Spring Farm, 19403 Dutton Road, Stewartstown, PA 17363, (717) 993-5327 or email MHawkins@whisperingspringfarm.com