Not me either, but I did visit Secretariat when he was standing at stud at Claiborne Farms in Paris, KY. My husband and I were the only ones signed up for the tour that day and the tour guide/handler offered to take Secretariat out of his stall for photos for us. He told us that the horse was so used to being photographed we would have about 30 seconds to get a good shot. He led him out, Secretariat stood up very formally, ears up, legs square, we got our shot and he instantly relaxed and went to sleep. It was very funny. Cool horse!
I've been extremely lucky. I have toured Gainesway Stud in KY, so I got to meet Mr Greeley (my baby daddy), Afleet Alex, Orientate, Tapit, and others. I also used to volunteer in stabling every year at Red Hills in Tallahassee, FL, so I got to kiss lots of upper level noses. Windfall, the O'Connor horses, Teddy so many to list, I was really lucky to get to know so many people and their incredible horses.
One year at Red Hills (my shining moment lol) when I was really young and was basically hanging out while my parents worked, we went up to David O'C to ask to take a quick picture with him. When we got to his stalls, he was aboutto get on Tigger, Too to go do his stadium round. He was super friendly, I go to stand next to him and Tigger, and David says "Doesn't she want to sit up here?" So he pulls me up in front of him on the saddle, red coat and all, and they took our picture. Coolest day of my life.
One that placed 17th at the 1980 Alt Olympics in Goodwood, One that just missed going to Seoul for the 88 Olympics, and another famous on a poster in CA for Dressage in the Wine Country...
I rode Monsieur, Charlotte Bredahl Baker's horse she won a bronze medal on in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. In his dotage, she leased him to students and gave lessons on him. It was so fun to passage, which I wasn't asking for, but was his default gait. He was wearing the saddle pad with the US flag on it when I rode him.
Also, I met Zenyatta up close and personal.
A helmet saved my life.
2014 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!
I got to see and pet the horses on the US Eventing team, and the entire Canadian team. (which by the way, the US riders were a little uppity, while the Canadians all partied with us.) I also got to take care of this Appy cross that was an alternate for the US Eventing team - this was all in 1996. He was very cool, and very much had that Appytude.
As for riding famous horses, I've been able to ride a few of Vic Russells, and they were all amazing.
I've galloped a few pretty nice ones too, but I wouldn't call them famous.
A few years ago, I was visiting a horse friend who worked for a big horse farm and had a big name who had ran in one of the Triple Crown races. The owner was off in NYC and my friend was working around the barn and I was tagging along. Anyway, she showed me this certain horse and told me all about it. The upshot was I ended up sitting on the horse...horse never took a step, just me up bareback. Actually, a very kind and gentle horse!
Way back in 1983-4 when I was Hilda Gurney's working student, I rode her famous dressage horse Keen several times. It was my job to tack him up, hop on and walk him around and then hand him over to her when she finished with her current horse. I'd also cool him off. I worked with another working student so we would alternate horses...she was amazing and would work 9 horses in the morning before teaching all day. So while I did ride him, it was only at a walk on a loose rein. He was a sweetheart too...a nice horse to work around.
I've been around a number of great event horses...not ridden them but knew them up close...but I knew The Gray Goose, The Flying Dutchman, and a couple of David and Karen O'Connors horses who's names escape me at the moment....they've had so many great ones. I stabled with them over one winter in Southern Pines. I knew Jim Graham's Easter Parade also who was also a barn mate. I groomed for Amanda Warrington shortly before she was injured and died and knew Exodus and Chevalier the horse that later went on to the olympics with Robert Costello.
Erm, I once cleaned the stall of and filled the water buckets for Shannon Dueck's Grand Prix horse, Korona, when she had him at JWU in 2000. It was winter and I had to take his bucket into the tack room to fill it with warm water lol
I rode Waseeka's Nocturne in 1969 at the Morgan National Show in Northampton MA. Not in the ring or anything, just around the barn area. He was as mild mannered as could be and they put me up on him with a halter! Also rode Orcland Donlendon at his owner's farm. I saw, but did not ride, Waseeka's In Command. I saw Troutbrook Playboy at that show too - he was just a foal and at his mother's side. I was 17 that year and it was the thrill of a lifetime to be at that show. Good times!
ETA: Also saw Nugget at Sugar Run Farm during the same time period. He was 30 or so at the time and still full of swagger.
Isn't she just fantastic? I remember the first time I saw her up close and personal. She's huge, and her half-sister isn't much smaller. Whereas in comparison, I'll Have Another's a wee guy, my head's about even with the top of his ears.
I've had the chance to meet some pretty big names in the racehorse world. Got to love all over A.P. Indy, and the boys of Lane's End.
And I can't say I've ridden a famous horse ... yet, but someone promised we could sit at least in the saddle of a stable pony who used to be a former racehorse and won some pretty big races. It's just a matter of timing.