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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 24, 2001
    Lexington, Kentucky

    Default The sad story of Tony Leonard, famed equine photographer

    For those who don't know his work:

    And his fate? Probably every person's worst nightmare - to be forcibly removed from your home and tossed into a state-run institution. What a sad, sad story.

    I can't even imagine the fight over the photographs.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 18, 2008
    land of the Canucks aka West Coast B.C.


    So sad. Hope Keenland or Kentucky Horse Park is able to buy the collection. Seems like they would do the best with it.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2001


    Those poor people. It sounds like they do need help, but how horrible. How horrible to have someone come in your home and take your pets and destroy them. Geez.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 23, 2006


    What a horrible thing to have happen. Very sad and very, very scary!!!

    I hope that everything gets straightend out and that these poor people get their belongings/money back and get the *proper* help they need (not a court-ordered nursing home *sentence*)!

    And Tony Leonard's photography is just amazing! Let's hope that the collection winds up at Keeneland or Kentucky Horse Park to be preserved and admired for generations to come.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2003
    The rolling hills of Virginia


    How very sad. Unfortunately, if you read the whole article you will see that a number a really good people - friends and family - tried to help them. But they would not accept enough help to keep this from happening.

    It is unfortunate that the state of Kentucky has to play the bad guy in this situation, but what is the alternative? If 4 out of 6 of their cats and dogs had to be euthanized, how bad must the situation have been? Esp. as one of the private caretakers was a vet and he failed to get them sorted out? It says that he, himself was dying of dehydration!

    As difficult as it is, sometimes (and often in cases of mental issues such at senility or bi-polar disorder) the state is the only body with enough legal power to really do anything. And the only one that can overturn the inherent rights of the individual - which is required when someone is hurting themselves or others to a life threatening degree. This seems to be the case here.

    If you all had just heard about their animals, most here would be calling for their heads on a plate, no?

    It is very sad for all involved. Unfortunately, it may be necessary as well.

    The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000


    A friend of mine used to reprsent folks in involuntary commitments.

    These are usually very very sad cases and it's not unusual for the individual to protest that they can in fact take care of themselves.

    There's always a possibility that they are in fact being victimized in some way.... but usually it is nothing more than a sad, even tragic story.

    This certainly qualifies as a very sad story - to see such an accomplished, vibrant soul come to such an end.

    (if we can learn anything from this is that folks - get your affairs in order NOW. Make your long term care arrangements, write your will, have a durable power of attorney, advance medical directives, etc. Do not assume that relatives or friends will be there to care for you, would know what you wanted done with pets, livestock, or other assets, and take steps now so that you can age in place or have alternative living arrangements if you become infirm or incompetent).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2010
    All 'round Canadia


    I agree, if you read the article these folks are not able to care for themselves, and all attempts by less-intrusive friends and family have failed. They actually needed someone to step in as the "bad guy".

    The pet situation sounds almost like hoarding, esp with the piles of feces, and unfortunately animals in the care of hoarders are often euthanized for their own good. People think they're doing the right thing by their pets, but unfortunately they're usually slowly killing them to death.

    Mental illness doesn't have to be shrieking-at-the-walls. People can be mentally ill and completely unable to care for themselves and still give lucid, outraged interviews about how they're sane and being unfairly locked up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 2009
    Lexington, KY


    Had a similar situation with my parents, but I did have a durable power of attorney and they were already living in a retirement home. They were in a cottage and unable to care for themselves. Phones turned off, etc.

    Quite frankly, I don't think my father ever forgave me. I had to take away his gun (thought my mother was an intruder in the middle of the night), dog (unable to care for or walk it) and last but not least his car...and that took three separate tries and I really believe he resented the car the most.

    Finally got them moved into assisted living and things went a bit more smoothly. I did live 15 minutes away and most of my siblings agreed with me, which makes everything a whole lot easier.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 18, 2004
    Red Bank, NJ


    Thank you for posting this. What a terribly sad situation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2008


    Reading the article, I'm inclined to believe that the couple very likely needs supervised care which they refused to accept from friends and family, and the state workers who implemented the government's right to force this care on them did some shady or careless things, including seizing assets before they were legally permitted to. So a little of both. I hope full value is obtained for those photos; I can see a potential for nastiness in the fact that the sellers (the government) will not, in fact, be the people who profit off the sale.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2007


    My thoughts exactly, vacation1. It sounds like there were some undeniable health risks going on, and that the couple very likely needs assistance. It's unfortunately not uncommon for elderly people to fall into these situations, and also to refuse help until they literally have no choice in the matter. It's very sad.

    OTOH, there seem to be some very questionable things going on with the disposing of the assets. I hope that their situation is resolved well--that they get the care they need, but that their assets are protected.

    His photographs are just beautiful. I'd seen some of them before but I wasn't really aware of him as a photographer. I've been looking through his work and it's lovely.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008


    How sad. It really is important to have plans in place before hand. But even then, it can be hard to admit you are in over your head, and pride can prevent you accepting help. My mother's elderly neighbor was a real character - spent all day on horseback visiting with friends, and working his land. It got to a point when he was nearly 90 that he repeatedly injured himself very badly due to falls (not from the horse), and his daughter (who lived and worked far away and was the only surviving family) had to beg and cajole him to move to an assisted living facility, as he would not accept any help or admit he was too frail to continue running the tractor, cutting wood, riding, etc. To the end he would call the local horse dealer on a regular basis to buy a new horse, to ride "as soon as he got home."

    I had a similar thing with an elderly aunt, who insisted she didn't need no stinking walker/cane etc despite repeatedly breaking her hip in falls around the house. She was far too proud to want to appear frail and elderly, even in her 90s! It was really hard on the family members who had to deal with each accident.

    One likes to think a plan will take care of future situations, but you can't know that your future self won't seriously disagree with your younger self's stinking plan!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    The rocky part of KY


    This is a terribly sad situation - but my grandma and grandpa were the same way, grandpa hated the Meals on Wheels food and was outright embarrassingly and hatefully rude to the home health aide. It did work out in the end with my mom, the doted on baby, having to fly across country numerous times and cajole them.

    Mr Leonard's work is exceptional, I hope that with the publication of the article that things are straightened out a little and the collection is preserved at Keeneland or other appropriate venue while providing them with a more comfortable full care situation.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2009
    South Florida


    I'm single and if I was incapacitated in some way, the State would take over my care. Therefore, I have a Medical surogate (family members) named to handle my health decisions, a power of Attorney, and a living will.

    Everyone should have these documents in place so that their wishes will be honored in times of need and also when the end is imminent.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2003

    Default It sounds like

    It sounds like intervention may have been needed but wasn't necessarily well handled or by the letter of the law. Hope it can be resolved and that Mr. Leonard's wishes for his work can be respected. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Leonard about 6 years ago. He was incredibly kind and signed three of his prints for me. I have treasured them since.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2002
    NJ, USA


    My parents are going through something like this with my 94 year old Grandmom right now. It is amazingly harder than you'd think to help someone at this age, help themself! It almost sounds to me like the way people are describing folks who have suffered a TBI in the past - they are there, functioning, but not really all there, and not really okay on their own, in spite of what they may think.

    She is on the brink of losing everything just like Leonard, but all my parents efforts to set her up in something like assisted living have met with "what? leave me alone!"

    But it won't last much longer - she has been banned from going food shopping (after collapsing and causing a 911 call every other time she visited) and the squad is called to her house at least twice a year for something. They have told my parents it might only take one more call for the state to step in and say "enough". And then her choices may be much more limited than they are now. My parents have done everything but force her to move to assisted living (comfortable place near my parents), - she has flat out refused.

    All they have managed to do is get her to agree to allow a nurse to visit a few hours most day - if she knew the nurse was paid she'd refuse it, my parents got her to allow it because they say its a "Friend".


    Anyway, just relating this story as I don't think people realize how hard it can be to help someone in this shape -

    Any another vote for getting your affairs in order before you hit your 80's!!! Then you can make some decisions while you are still thinking rationally, you know? It will save your kids and relatives much heartache & struggle!

    To make this Horse Related my 40-50 something best friends and I have reciprical agreements where if something happens to us, the other will take care of horses, and other pets, as we know our friends would want. It is a great comfort just to have that verbal agreement, but I know we should get something in writing, and financial backing to our wishes, before we hit our 60's!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006


    While it certainly is a sad story on the one hand, I can't help but be impressed by the kindness and generosity of non-family members....the veterinarian who petitioned to be a guardian...the staff at Keeneland.

    It can be very challenging to help those who don't realize they need it. It can be difficult to BE the bad guy. But sometimes, even though it can ruin relationships, you have to be willing to do what is in the best interest of the person.

    I sure hope they can work something out.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2009


    Maybe now that he and his wife are in such a terrible place - "rock bottom", as it were - they'll see the light and agree to accept help.

    And I wish the eternal diarrhea curse on anyone who would ever abuse the elderly.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 13, 2000


    Things got very bad with my 87 year old father before he passed away. He absolutely refused to the doctor or even get out of his chair, I had to call the ambulance so that the paramedics could transport him to the hospital. My mother and I weren't physically able to and he gave the paramedics a hard time as well. It's not easy getting someone to do something they don't want to do no matter how much they need the help.

    Sometimes elderly people just aren't in their right mind, they cannot see their situation clearly anymore.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 17, 2006


    In case anyone here is interested, there has been a Facebook group set up for Tony:!/...2716057&ref=mf

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