Heisman–the prominent breeding stallion who was Michael Matz’ partner at the 1992 Barcelona (Spain) Olympic Games–was euthanized on Sept. 15 due to the infirmities of old age. He was 26.
Owner Sale Johnson bought Heisman as a 7-year-old, and Rodney Jenkins rode him in his early career. Matz rode the flashy chestnut Oldenburg stallion by Furioso II to double-clear rounds in the Nations Cup at the ’92 Olympics as the anchor rider.
In 1991, they won the $70,000 Guadala-jara Grand Prix (Mexico) at the Juriquilla CSI and also jumped a double-clear in the U.S. team’s winning effort in the Nations Cup there, just a day after winning the smaller grand prix too.
Johnson recalled that Heisman developed an abscess in Mexico, on the day in between the Nations Cup and the big grand prix.
“We got the Canadian farrier to dig the abscess out, and we spent the whole day soaking it. The next day, he was a lot better, so we tacked a shoe on, and he jogged sound, and he went in and won the grand prix. He had so much heart,” she said.
“Michael always talked about what kind of heart he had, and his will to win. It was just the kind of competitor he was,” Johnson continued.
Heisman qualified for the Barcelona Olympic team with just one rail down over 10 grueling rounds of selection trials. “And at the Olympics, he was just breathtaking to watch because he did it so easily. I should have been nervous, but I wasn’t, because he was just spectacular,” remembered Johnson.
Heisman retired in the spring of 1993 with a suspensory ligament injury and lived out his retirement and breeding career at Johnson’s WGHR Farm in Bedminster, N.J. His oldest offspring are 9 this year, showing in the hunter and jumper rings, as well as in eventing and dressage.
HRH Prince Bernard
Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, the president of the Federation Equestre Internationale from 1952 to 1964, died on Dec. 1 after a long battle with cancer. He was 93.
Prince Bernhard was the German-born hus-band to the late Queen Juliana. Their daughter Beatrix is the current Queen of the Netherlands, while another, Irene, was a member of the Dutch team at the European Junior Champion-ships in 1956. The prince had four other daughters–Christina, Alexia, Margriet and Alicia.
Prince Bernhard also competed internationally for the Netherlands and won the Dutch National Eventing Championship in 1952. Also in that year, he followed Baron de Trannoy as president of the FEI until Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, succeeded him in 1964. Prince Bernhard continued to show a keen interest in equestrian sport and regularly attended events in The Netherlands, particularly jumping. He was a guest at the World Equestrian Games in 1994 in The Hague and a member of the Appeal Jury at several Olympic Games.
He also helped found and served as the first president of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 until his resignation in 1976. He remained a dedicated advocate of wildlife conservation until his death.
During World War II, Prince Bernhard helped his mother-in-law, Queen Wilhelmina, his wife and children escape from the Netherlands to England just before the German invasion. While his family then fled to Canada, Prince Bernhard remained in England and flew fighters for the Royal Air Force. After the war, he played a central role in rebuilding the Netherlands.
Donald Bruce–show hunter owner and rider, foxhunter, and owner of the clothing store that bears his name in West Palm Beach, Fla.–died on Nov. 25 at the Hospice of Palm Beach County. He was 86 and had suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001.
Mr. Bruce was a regular at the Winter Equestrian Festival shows in Wellington and had been a jt.-MFH of the Tri-County Hunt in Griffin, Ga., and been a follower of the Palm Beach Hunt. He had continued riding occasionally after his stroke at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.
After graduating from the Brooklyn Polytechnic School (N.Y.) and Dartmouth College (N.H.), Mr. Bruce sang and danced on Broadway in the ’40s. He then began a successful career in retailing, ultimately opening his own shop on Worth Ave. in Palm Beach in 1980. He was chairman of the Gilman Foundation at his death.
He is survived by brothers Gordon R. Bruce of Stuart, Fla., and Alan T. Bruce of North Palm Beach, Fla., and their wives; sister Nancy Kramer of Long Beach, Calif.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made to the Hospice of Palm Beach County or to Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, 13300 6th St. N, Loxahatchee, FL 33470.
Advanced event horse Horton Who was euthanized in early August after suffering laminitis caused by Potomac horse fever. Dr. Audrey Evans and Michael Schultz owned the 11-year-old Thoroughbred (by Foreign Survivor–Regal Britches).
Rumsey Keefe Gilbert started the bay gelding’s eventing career, winning preliminary horse trials and placing at the intermediate level before selling him to Phillip Dutton. Evans and Schultz then purchased him for Marcia Kulak to compete. He had completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, the three-star CCIs at Fair Hill (Md.) and Blenheim (England), and the Bromont CCI** (Que.).
“He was a very special horse, and everyone in the barn will miss him,” said Kulak. “There is a real emptiness, mostly because he was such a lovely individual to be around.”
CC Blue Knight
CC Blue Knight died Oct. 19 at Greenhaven Farm in Madison, Ga. “Knight” was a multiple supreme champion Welsh pony. He was also a nominee to be the U.S. national champion Welsh pony stallion.
Michelle Drum of Greenhaven Farm said, “I have had the wonderful honor of knowing him for 10 years. He has produced many beautiful ponies here in Georgia, as well as throughout the U.S. His legacy will live on through his youngsters.”
Knight was a son of the famous Findeln Blue Danube. His progeny included Rosmel’s Blue Velvet (aka Ticket to Ride), Spring’s Break Blue Anon and Rosmel’s Blue Violet. Staff
Le Purser, a former grand prix show jumper and equitation mount, was euthanized on Nov. 11 due to the infirmities of old age. He was 27.
“Pursy” was a beloved part of the Taylor family of Middleburg, Va., for almost 10 years. As a show jumper, he was an alternate horse for the German team for the 1984 Olympics. Then, Korean rider Un Jin Moon qualified him for the 1988 Olympics.
Pursy then made his way into the junior jumper divisions and eventually the equitation ring. Under the guidance of trainers Christina Schlusemeyer and Bobby Braswell, Pursy carried multiple riders to ribbons at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) and all the major equitation finals. The Taylors bought him in 1995, and both of their daughters, Abbie and Lizzie, showed him until his retirement in 1998.
“I remember the first time Lizzie did the [USEF] Medal finals at Harrisburg, and she was just 12 and so nervous,” said Linda Taylor, their mother. “He went in there and was just a seeing-eye dog. And she was on the standby list until the very end of the class.
“He had the biggest heart in the world, and he put his heart into everything he did. He was just such a majestic presence. It was like having nobility on your farm. Everyone knew it; all the other horses knew it. They all respected Pursy, not because he was dominant, but as if they could sense he was special.”
Our obituary on Dr. Joseph P. Smeykal (Nov. 26, p. 107) omitted that he served as the veterinarian at FEI-sanctioned competitions as that his research on plastics had been published in Modern Plastics Encyclopedia.