Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Memory Of London

A very special horse with a very special story.

London passed away on December 22nd, 2009. He was a beloved member of Briarwood Riding School's Family and will be very badly missed.

Briarwood Riding School members generously donated to Shiloh in London's memory. A total of $700.00 was collected...

The following was written by Nancy Daniels.


It is with deep sadness that I let everyone know that we lost London this morning. Dr. Chandler believes that he may have suffered a seizure or other similar event and it was sudden and relatively quick. He had been happy and feeling fine the last several days, for which we give thanks, but it appears that it was just London's time. He was in his mid to late 20's.

Unfortunately, I have had to write these e-mails several times over the years, and I always feel so inadequately able to express my love and absolute admiration for these special beings. I don't tend to be very effusive and words can not describe how special London was, and what he has meant to me and everyone at Briarwood over the years. We have been so incredibly fortunate for the horses (and students) that have become a part of Briarwood and I know that I can not possibly do him justice, but I will try to capture a glimpse of him and a very special story.

London has been a treasured member of the Briarwood family for the last 15 years or so. He arrived with his owner, Diane Myers after Diane had trouble finding a trainer that understood London, as he was a bit of a complex horse at the time. I remember standing outside the arena at Hazy Meadow (Briarwood's home at the time) as Diane walked in aboard London and started her lesson. Within minutes, Diane had been asked to dismount and Sarah was on him. From there, there was no looking back -- a special bond was formed. London thrived with Sarah and it seemed as though he could finally relax that he "had found someone" who understood him. She coined the name "Mr. Bridge" since London's registered name was "London Bridge" and the nickname stuck. With Diane's love and understanding and Sarah's training, London just got better and better. When Diane was taken from us by breast cancer, she asked that London and Tosca stay with Briarwood and we have been lucky to have them.

London was a special horse that some might describe as "quirky" (as the best ones are) with personality plus. He always had a quiet pride about him and had a special way of standing in his stall that made him seem ten feet tall. It didn't matter that he wasn't an Olympic mount, he knew his work was just as important (if you asked him, he would probably convince you that it was MORE important, and no one would disagree). He could be a pain in the ass when he wanted to (again, as the best ones are) and in recent months seemed to delight in escaping from his stall to "tour" Lucidi Farms. Sometimes he would casually walk out an open stall door or, if we forgot to attach the clip, he would wait until everyone left and just open the stall door and wander wherever he felt like going (although, he courteously always put himself back before morning!).

Diane competed him for years successfully, and several Briarwood riders had the opportunity to ride, lease and compete and he always brought his riders safely home with a great experience under their belts. He taught many, many people to ride and also to jump and the lucky riders that were able to ride him gained so much from him. When I had all but given up on jumping due to fear, London was integral in my return. When I was too scared to get on anyone else, I was able to get on him and jump (sorry to any kids that I evicted to do so! ). I so vividly recall those lessons to this day down to the exact fences, even though it was about ten years ago! I knew that he would take care of me just like every other rider that was priviledged to know him.

When Diane was in her final weeks of life and wanted nothing more than to ride, it was London to whom we entrusted our beloved friend, even though she had not ridden him regularly in years (she had moved on to Tosca by that time). One day, Diane asked me to come and pick her up from her house to take her to the ranch to "visit" because she was no longer driving. When I arrived, I was somewhat alarmed to see her dressed in riding clothes with her boots in her hands. Surely, she didn't intend to ride! She must be just bringing her boots to keep her shoes clean.... right??.....She was pretty frail at the time and I was racking my brain trying to figure out a way to stop her from riding on the drive out, but anyone who knew Diane knows that those efforts would be futile.

I reluctantly helped her tack up London and lead him to the arena still frantically trying to figure out how to stop this whole thing and knowing that her family would be horified (and angry at me) if they knew what she was doing. I was completely torn knowing that I was "aiding and abeting" a covert operation, but also knowing how very important it was to her. As she paused to adjust her boot, I looked into London's eyes and in a millisecond knew that he understood, and everything would be all right.

I walked around the arena with her several times (not exactly sure what I thought I was going to do) but with a connection to London that I can not describe and I was instantly relieved -- maybe this would be okay. Suddenly, Diane announced that she wanted to trot! What?!? How was I going to explain to her family what the heck she was doing on a horse if she fell off?!? Panic again set in, but was not needed. London puffed himself up and trotted perfectly while I ran along side for good measure (again unneeded). Luckily, she felt like she had enough before I had a heart attack from running alongside!.

Sarah had been out of town for the Christmas holiday and I remember telling her about it, to which she asked "Do you think that was a good idea?" to which I replied "Hell no, I think it was a horrible idea, but what was I supposed to do?".

A couple of weeks later, I was able to talk to her family (with no mention of the double secret ride that had already taken place) and convince her husband to bring her out to "try" a ride. It took a lot of convincing (particularly since she was the only horse person of the family), but he realized how much it meant to her and, somewhat reluctantly, agreed. Knowing that Diane did not like a lot of attention and completely thankful that Sarah was back and could handle the ride, I watched from an adjacent ring aboard Bubba with incredible admiration while London gave her the ride of her life. He was perfect and it was amazing to see Diane so happy and content -- it seemed like a stolen moment. She died a week later to the day, and my last memory of my very good friend is aboard my other very dear friend, Mister Bridge, for which I will always be grateful.

So Mister Bridge.... thank you for everything. You are one of a kind! Go find Diane and give her another "ride of a lifetime". We will miss both of you!


mrscravitz said...

What a beautiful and heart warming story! My tears are for the friends that are together in another world now, riding the hills and valleys.
London certainly was one of a kind!

Tammy said...

Thank you for posting this. I didn't know the horse or Diane, but understand what it meant to her and know the horse knew as well. Nothing like a good cry on a cloudy, Thursday morning.

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful and heart warming story.

greyhound_mom said...

Oh London! I was only able to ride you a few times during my time at Briarwood, but you truly were a special, special horse. So gorgeous, and so very full of personality. I can only imagine how much Diane must have missed you, and how excited she must now be to ride you again. My heart is broken for everyone at Briarwood.