This month our community lost two great horsemen, Peter Winants and Wash Bishop, and you can read about their lifetime achievements on p. 47. Both men were leaders in their respective disciplines—Peter in equestrian journalism and Wash in eventing—and were known throughout the country for their insight, abilities and accomplishments.
I was fortunate to know both of these men and will greatly miss them.
I met Mr. Winants on the first day of my internship at the Chronicle, back in 1987, when I arrived at the office too early for my first day on the job. I waited on the front steps for someone to arrive to unlock the door, and Mr. Winants, the publisher, was the first to greet me. He invited me inside, gave me a quick tour of the building and promptly gave me a task on which to begin.
It was the first of many projects he would entrust to me, as Mr. Winants took me under his wing and helped teach me the ropes in equestrian journalism, photography and working for a weekly magazine. As a college student and intern with a modest salary, I wasn’t able to bring a horse to Virginia, so Mr. Winants kindly offered me one of his to ride and compete.
I spent eight wonderful months writing about and riding horses in Virginia and discovered that I could successfully combine my vocation with my avocation. As an exclamation point to my internship, Mr. Winants even entrusted me to take his place and travel to Germany to cover the World Pairs Driving Championships, giving me an opportunity of a lifetime. Thanks in great part to his belief in me, I’d found my calling.
A few years later, after I’d graduated from college and returned to the Chronicle in 1991 to start on the editorial staff, I met Wash Bishop. He was sharing a facility with my hunter/jumper trainer, so we rode together in the communal rings and hacked out in the same fields.
I often watched Wash train his up-and-coming event horses and fine-tune his veteran CCI horses. I was impressed by his easy, natural feel on a horse and also his ability to translate his training into words. Under Wash’s tutelage, I jumped my first corners, galloped my first steeplechase fences and learned to more fully appreciate and understand the merits of proper flatwork for all horses in all disciplines.
I actually realized Wash’s talents on a horse first-hand when he allowed me to show his upper-level eventer Furst Falco in the jumpers at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (Va.). Riding the big gray was, I imagine, like driving a Rolls Royce. He was so well trained and responsive that my confidence soared along with my horse over the jumps, and I still cherish that tricolor ribbon we earned.
So, it was with great sadness that I edited these two obituaries this week. I owe both of these horsemen a debt of gratitude for their kindness and friendship over the years, for spending their valuable time educating me and showing great generosity to a young writer and rider.
My time with them may have been fleeting, but the lessons I learned and the memories I made will always be treasured.