Sassy Reason, a member of the 1992 Olympic three-day event team and one of only two horses ridden by an American to win the Burghley CCI**** (England), was euthanized on Feb. 17 due to the degeneration of his suspensory structure. He was 26.
Former event rider Joe Hickey spotted “Sassy,” an ex-racehorse, at James Casey’s farm and contacted Ann Barrow-Fisher. After one glimpse, Barrow-Fisher knew that he was just the horse for her.
“He was so cute and had great conformation,” said Barrow-Fisher, who purchased the 3-year-old in 1984.
She started competing Sassy (Limit To Reason–Sassy Mite) in 1985, guiding him to the top spot in their first novice trial together. She successfully competed Sassy up through the preliminary level, winning two events with him in 1989, including the Area III Preliminary Championship.
In the fall of ’89, after taking her horse to Bruce Davidson for lessons, Fisher decided that she lacked the experience to take Sassy any further in his career, so she handed the reins over to a former student of Davidson’s, Stephen Bradley.
In 1990, Bradley and Sassy won the Radnor Hunt CCI** (Pa.) and the Essex CCI** (N.J.). A year later, the pair placed first in the Checkmate CCI*** (Ont.), a title they defended in 1992 and ’93 as well. In 1993, they earned their historic win at Burghley, and Sassy Reason was named The Chronicle of the Horse Horse of the Year as well as the U.S. Combined Training Association Horse of the Year.
The following year, only days before departing for the World Championships, Fisher was faced with the difficult decision of retiring Sassy from competition. A combination of a severe nosebleed and chronic swelling in one of his fetlocks concerned the team veterinarian as well as Fisher, who knew that the health of her horse was more important than any title he could win.
Fisher continued to ride Sassy, though only on the flat, up until 2002 when he went into full retirement at Deer Run Farm in Newnan, Ga. In the last few years of his life, Sassy enjoyed rolling in the mud and playing with his pasture mate, Teddy, a retired Grand Prix dressage horse.
“He was always very kind and loved to play,” recalled Fisher. “In the paddock, if you ran, he’d run after you. And he had an adventuresome side too–sometimes he would try to leave the farm.”