The world lost a wonderful horseman on September 2nd. He was my dad. He wasn't famous, or a trainer, or anything like that.
My dad was the best horseman I ever knew, all biases aside. I will never know a fraction of the wisdom that went with him. He had a fundamental sense of horses - it's hard to explain, but you had to see it. Though he taught me that every day you learn something from your horses.
He rode when he was young, did a little eventing, a little polo, and when we were kids, did some reining with his horse, and some lower lever dressage with my ottb.
From wild thoroughbreds, who would be docile as kittens with him, to the "problem" horses, my father was, in the truest sense of the word, one with horses. In 47 years of my life, I never saw him strike, spur, or came close to losing his temper - he never had to- it was eerie.
When I was a little girl, my first horse was an SPCA seizure with a then 45% survival chance. He had been chased into a disc plow(by a person), and had horrific injuries. With my father, and daily vet visits, he recovered to be my pony - we had years of fun, and when I look back at my childhood, it seems to be always through that pony's ears.
We watched races together, and one day, back in 1973, after watching a race on tv, he turned to me, and said" I'll tell you something- those horses that came in last? You could probably go buy them for a dollar - and you'll have the most wonderful horse - there is nothing like the heart of a thoroughbred" On my 12th birthday, he made that dream come true for me- a 10 yr old who had raced 172 times, with an old bow and a HUGE heart. Dad and I rehabbed him together -I learned so much. It's funny, looking back now, my first two horses I could not ride for the first 6 months I had them. Maybe that was Dad's way of gently showing me the true worth of the horses.
There are a few horses who would not have had the chance to live their lives if not for my dad- elsie, stoney, brandy, gidget.
My dad was kind to all animals, but the horses, well that was something else.
We cheered together for Riva Ridge, Red Rum, Seattle Slew, and all the others. We mourned and cried for Ruffian, Barbaro, and Go for Wand.
Sometimes he would sit in on my lessons, and I remember him laughing and enjoying just being there - thanks - Torrance, Denis and Bill.
He consoled me and we cried together when Tim passed last year - one year to the day before Dad.
I hope someday to be half the horseman my dad was.
Dad- I hear you with me, I see you in the eyes of my horses. I hope I will make you proud.
Since I hadn't the strength to say this at the service, Dad, let me wish you:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
My big man - April 27, 1986 - September 04, 2008-
You're with me every moment, my big red horse.
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting a battle of some kind.
Its obvious you know how fortunate you were to know someone like that, let alone have him as your father. I imagine his lessons were not lost on you and you can carry on his work into the next generation. Thanks for sharing him with us, godspeed.
A lovely heartfelt tribute Brandy. It's plain to see you loved and respected your father very much, as I'm sure your father knew all along. And that's the greatest gift a child can give a parent.
My deepest condolences on your loss.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!