As most of you know, renowned trainer Gary Zook passed away from cardiac arrest last week. He was only 48 and his death was a huge loss to those who loved him as well as the horse world in general. Like perhaps many of you, Gary had a huge impact on my life, starting from when I was five years old and he led me in the leadline at Devon (during which I became quite smitten with him and later announced we were "married" - to his great surprise) all the way up through my teen riding years. He helped guide my sister, Meredith Taylor, to a great deal of success in the equitation ring and was a dear friend of my family's.
I am writing an article for the publication, The Plaid Horse, commemorating Gary's life and I would love to hear from the people who were touched by Gary's heart, humor, and tremendous talent. Even just a few words to share a memory would be lovely. Please either share your memories on here (and include your name and contact info) or email me directly at DevonLTaylor@gmail.com.
Additionally, my family is helping to organize a slide show at his funeral (next Monday, June 11th at 6:00pm at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Pittstown, NJ). If you have any pictures of Gary you would be willing to share, please email them to me or to my mom, Denise, at MDWorrell2@verizon.net.
I appreciate everyone's help and kind thoughts. I hope to see the many people next Monday whose lives were touched by Gary.
I took a lesson with a young hunter who did not have lead changes yet. By way of giving advice, Gary relayed a story from his younger days:
"Once when I was a junior I was taking a clinic from Christine Traurig, and my horse wouldn't do his changes, and she said, 'Just whip 'im with that stick! Just whip 'im!'" This was relayed with a good deal of good humor, nothing aggressive or mean about it. Of course he so deftly placed himself in the "wide-eyed student" role while delivering his suggestion, which is a very kind way for a trainer of his caliber to deliver advice.
For the rest of the lesson, whenever my horse sassed the lead change, Gary would chirp, "Just wheep 'im with that stick! Just wheeeep 'im!" and I would "tap!tap!", and the horse would hop up and down, and the change would happen.
Somehow he conveyed how to be firm but also good humored with a horse, all in that one sentence, delivered in the perfect tone of voice.
Last edited by meupatdoes; Jun. 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM.
Gary taught a clinic in CA. many years ago when I was just an aspiriring pro and had a few junior riders also hoping to attain great goals. I remember him telling one 13 yr. old rider that "If you ride like that you can WIN anywhere ". She did and has the memories and awards to prove it, thank you Gary for inspiring both a young rider and a freshman trainer acheive more than we realized was possible.