Thursday, May. 23, 2024

Looking For An Inspiration Today?

If you read our first issue published in 1937, one of our lead stories covered steeplechasing at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg, Va. They still race there. In fact, they hold more ’chases there each year than any place in the United States.
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If you read our first issue published in 1937, one of our lead stories covered steeplechasing at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg, Va. They still race there. In fact, they hold more ’chases there each year than any place in the United States.

Today, some 70 years later, we publish the Steeplechasing Issue you’re holding. It’s packed with stories about the horses, riders and trainers who race over fences, much as they did then. Regardless of your discipline, I urge you to read it all, but begin with the obituary on page 89 reporting the untimely passing of my friend, Bruce Haynes. It’s an odd way to start, to be sure, but if you allow me to help you read between the lines, you won’t find a tragic loss. You’ll find an inspiration that will lift your heart.

Bruce and I met as kids going to those fun family shows you hardly see any more. East Tennessee was hardly a hunter/jumper Mecca. The shows were predominately  for gaited horses, and our small clutch was usually relegated to a nearby field where there was no arena, and we set up an outside course over rolling terrain with 40 or 50 strides between jumps, not four or five. Our horses were nothing fancy, just good horses that would do anything we asked them to do. We would end the day with a bareback dollar class. It was huge fun.

The spark in Bruce came from his family. You may know the Haynes family well, too. Their “active” involvement would be an understatement. His parents, Alethia and David Haynes, are the best folks you’d ever want to meet. They raised Bruce and his two sisters, Val and Parker (now Minchin), in a way that made them all amazingly attractive people. They were superb riders. English, western or bareback, they could ride circles around you. I have a box of yellow and white ribbons to prove it. To this day, they are always glad to see you with beaming smiles across their faces, the most positive people I know.

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Bruce eventually left showing and got into steeplechasing, putting together a stable with Mike Berryman, who was more like a brother to Bruce and me. They took cast-offs, rejects, has-beens, and turn-outs and turned them into treasures everyone wanted and paid for! The list is long but certainly topped by Breeders’ Cup Champion Rowdy Irishman. All told, Bruce’s career earnings top $1.5 million, mostly from
horses he made on the farm.

But it wasn’t so much what he did as much as how he did it. His energy was indefatigable. His enthusiasm was irrepressible. His focus could not be derailed. If you were a horse under his tack, you’d run and jump too! Not because you had to, but because you wanted to.

His style was so disarming, yet so infectious; he was Huck Finn in Superman’s cape! As a result, his own family marched right in step after Bruce. Wife Anne breeds winners, and two of three sons, Russell and Will, are promising race riders. Youngest son Aaron wants to be a doctor. No doubt, he will be the finest.
As it is with them, so should it be with you. Face your goals with half the verve, determination, and positivity and you’ll leave this life as richly as Bruce. As well, you will inspire others to do the same, multiplying the effect. Bruce accomplished much in life, but the legacy he leaves behind may do far, far more for us all.

Robert L. Banner Jr.

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