California Riding Magazine • May, 2012

Flying Changes

Poet T.S. Eliot wrote that "April was the cruelest month" and that was certainly true for equestrian sports this year. On April 12, we lost both Olympic eventer Amy Tryon and equestrian entrepreneur John Quirk.

And we also got news that USET show jumping chef d'equipe George Morris would be undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Happily, he
is expected to be back in action for the Summer Olympics.

Amy Tryon

Amy Tryon was just 42. She passed away in her sleep of causes that have not been disclosed.

She and her best-known equine partner, Poggio II, represented the USA at the Olympics in Athens in 2004 and Hong Kong in 2008. Poggio was a pack horse that Amy purchased from a classified newspaper advertisement. She was equally well known for juggling the demands of international eventing with those of being a professional firefighter. Amy retired from firefighting in 2006 to focus on horses, working out of her stable in Duvall, WA.

In announcing Amy's passing on, "Her family asks that remembrances be made to your local humane society, and that each of us remembers anything is possible if we try."

Amy is survived by her husband Greg, a super supportive horse husband, and her immediate and large extended family of friends and admirers.

John Quirk. Photo by Tish Quirk.

John Quirk

John Quirk was in his 90s and lived a colorful life that impacted many people and industries. John suffered a massive heart attack in December of last year and passed away April 12 in the arms of his wife Tish, for whom he dove into the horsey chapters of his well-lived life.
A Navy fighter pilot who once flew a Corsair fighter jet under the Golden Gate Bridge, John was also a novelist, (No Red Ribbons) a successful auto industry executive and co-owner of the San Diego Chargers football team.

He met Tish in New York City at the height of her modeling career. They married in 1968 and were a formidable team from then on. Tish introduced John to the horse world and he embraced it, owning several top international jumpers, indentifying the potential for European Warmbloods in the States back in the early 80s, and leading the way in bringing World Cup jumping to the West Coast, starting with the World Cup Finals in Del Mar in 1992.

Typical of John's attention to detail was his determination to make the foreign horses' trip to Del Mar as smooth as possible. He used his US Navy connections to secure permission for the horse transport plane to land at the Miramar Naval Air Station, a short drive from the venue. The horses arrived at the base, complete with a fighter jet escort, and were in their stables at the showgrounds in less than an hour, avoiding the long journey from a commercial airport.

In 2000 John was also instrumental in bringing the first FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final to Las Vegas, paving the way for four further Finals to be held there in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Along the way John and Tish published HORSES Magazine for 12 years. In an enjoyable chat with John last November, he relayed that he meant to buy an ad for Tish in HORSES Magazine "and instead I bought a magazine" when it turned out the former owner, Judith Spreckels, was about to quit publishing it. "It's my fault we never made a lot of money on HORSES Magazine," John laughed. "I wasn't that interested in advertising. I just wanted to have fun."

And fun they had, travelling to and reporting on myriad World Cup Finals and other international events. "The magazine had about 350 subscribers when we bought it," John remembered. "Within four years, we had subscribers in all 50 states and in 39 countries."

John took credit for launching Tish on her photography career, but he was clear that her super successful breeding business was all her doing. "I give her all the credit for that," John said of a business that began with foundation sire Best Of Luck, the legendary Dutch Warmblood by Lucky Boy that John bought for Tish and imported from Holland in 1983. "She worked very hard at that and she still does."

"He was bigger than life and mine is empty without him," said Tish in her notice to friends and colleagues. "He came into the horse world as his gift to me and he made it better for everyone. He embraced it and helped it grow and brought joy to everyone he knew. I was so lucky to get to spend most of my life with him. I will spend the rest of life remembering and thanking him."

Click here to read an article we published on John and Tish Quirk in January, 2003.

George Morris Undergoing Cancer Treatment

U.S. Show Jumping chef d'equipe George Morris will be undergoing treatment for prostate cancer this spring. Morris will remain in his position of chef d'equipe and will stay closely involved with the program, the selection process and the riders even though he will be unable to travel to the Observation Events.

Morris has asked Robert Ridland (who was recently named the Morris' successor beginning in 2013) to attend the Observation Events (including May 5 and 6 in Del Mar) and monitor the technical aspects of those competitions and report to Morris.

Morris is expected to be fit and able to return to the horse show circuit by early summer and is expected to be able to travel in time to prepare the team in Europe for the Olympic Games and attend that Championship. The USEF and the entire horse show community wish Morris a full recovery.