January 2017 - CPHA Special Award Recipients: The Horses
Written by produced by Kim F. Miller & Alicia Anthony
Friday, 30 December 2016 01:27
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Stars from yesteryear gallop into the Hall of Fame.

produced by Kim F. Miller & Alicia Anthony

Danny, Fleet Apple & Fateful – Lifetime Equine Hall of Fame
by DiAnn Langer

Fleet Apple

Fleet Apple – 1968-1969

Fleet Apple, a Thoroughbred, was born in 1959 by Smart Apple out of Fleet Lee. Easter Lee, Fleet Apple’s third dam, was the full sister to Henry Lee, the sire of Huaso, who set the World High Jump record at the time of 8’ 1¾”.

Fleet Apple’s journey began at the track. I’m sure he did not run well. He probably barely fit in the gate. Following what I understand was a short career at the track, he was ridden by a gentleman in Utah who started his career in the show ring. The story has it that Fleet Apple started to hang up at the gate. Somewhere between the track and the show ring, Kaye Love bought him and sent him to Bill Herring for training.

At the time I had decided to go back to school and was entertaining a new career direction. But fate had a different plan for me. Soon after Fleet Apple arrived at Bill Herring’s, it was clear that he was not going to take to another man riding him. I got a call to come and see if I was more to this very sensitive horse’s liking.

I believe it was the very next day that I dropped out of school, which started a whole new journey for both Fleet Apple and me.

He was big, maybe 17.2hh, bay and was not interested in being manhandled. I rode him on a very soft rein and really just tried to remember the course. We never had the gate issue, and I was too inexperienced and small to force him to do anything. It didn’t matter how high or wide the jumps were, he loved jumping. From 1968 to the end of 1969 he was Champion at every major show on the West Coast as well as a PCHA Year-End Champion.

His impeccable style of jumping won him fans everywhere. Through the years I have seen his likeness over the hogs back on hats, shirts, Facebook and in articles. His name is remembered by so many people.

I spent a lot of time with him not only as his rider but also as his groom. He was a very serious, very stoic horse and I treated him with respect which he returned to me. You could not get in a hurry with him or push him around, he would have you on the ground in a second.

Mac Linn, a western professional that I was grooming for at the shows, was the one who taught me how to get Fleet Apple to half-halt without taking a strong hold. This technique that I used with Fleet Apple I have used throughout my riding career. It was the one thing that allowed me to be so competitive with Fleet Apple and manage so many other horses.

He loved being turned out in the chute where he would jump whatever was set, without being asked …just because he liked it. Other than free jumping for the joy of it, he liked to compete. He was a winner and he knew it. Sadly, as far as I know, I doubt he ever developed more than a tolerance for people.

It wasn’t long before the famous Bert de Nemethy walked into the barn. He had come to see Fleet Apple. I was asked to go to the East Coast and travel to Europe with Fleet Apple but I took a different direction one more time and stayed in California. Fleet Apple was ridden by Bill Steinkraus and then more successfully by Kathy Kusner. Kathy had a better rapport with him and competed in the ‘72 Olympics for a silver medal podium win.

Fleet Apple eventually returned to California but was placed, to my great disappointment, with another rider. But he truly was ready and so deserved to be retired and soon after left for Kaye’s ranch in Arizona.


Fateful – 1969-1978

Fateful came to me in 1969. He was 5 and had been ruled off the track. Gretchen Tank had purchased him as a 4-year-old. Big, 16.2hh, strong and with a very difficult problem of running to the rail of the track and rearing. I wish I could remember how he was bred, but I know Gretchen would not have put down good money to buy a very big problem if he wasn’t bred to jump.

When Gretchen showed up at Hill View Stable and asked me if I was interested in working with him, of course I said yes. As it turned out, it was one of the best decisions of my life. Fateful and I taught each other and formed a communication and trust that I believe comes from developing a young horse from the start of their jumping career. He is why I encourage all young riders to develop young horses.

It was a challenge. He was probably the most intelligent horse I have ever dealt with. He was not the athlete that Fleet Apple was, nor did he have the speed of Danny. His technique was never classic, but his heart was bigger than his scope. He always finished in the top ribbons, often not receiving the accolades he so well deserved, overshadowed by Danny’s daring. Most often Fateful was seen in the Reserve Champion position.

Fence for fence, I believe he jumped more clear rounds than Fleet Apple or Danny ever did and he did this year after year. I believed he could jump whatever was set and because of the trust we had built, Fateful believed it too.

It was a difficult start and I remember that many times I would hope someone would come along and pry us off a chain link fence line at a show (especially at the Del Mar National), or at home in the ring, sometimes even somewhere out on the trail. I knew never to get off. If I did I would lose and, ultimately, he would lose too. So many times I was reduced to tears in frustration.

The story ends well. Along the way in my search for the answer I learned that the real authority lies in control of the hindquarters, not just for him but all horses. Yes, we know that is basic knowledge 101, but I was without any formal training. Once I convinced him that he would need to move his haunch, the rearing was cured and then real progress happened in his development.

His show career started in the hunters and I still believe it is a great place to start any horse, regardless of his ultimate career. He never won anything, of course, but what he lost in ribbons he won in confidence. Fateful never gave less than his best. He loved Gretchen, if you are one who believes that a horse can love, and he brought us incredible joy. After Fleet Apple left for an International career, Fateful was my focus and it wasn’t very long before Danny showed up.

With Danny in the barn I now had a one-two punch in the show ring.


Danny – 1972-1978

Danny was a Thoroughbred born in 1961: Galla Damion out of Elain Marie. His pedigree is filled with great jumpers both top and bottom. In short, he was truly bred to jump. The Flying Nun was a full sister and his third dam produced Sympatico, both horses were successful in the U.S. and internationally.

Danny did just that, jumped, but he was also well known as a stopper. I would add arrogant and strongly opinionated. I picked up the ride and then the ownership of Danny when his owner couldn’t pay my bill for riding his horses. He had been ridden by several different riders, with just marginal results. We hit it off right away. It’s not to say that he didn’t put me on the ground, he did, but somehow we were on the same page more often than not.

Standing a bit over 16hh, what he lacked in height, he made up for in attitude. My focus with him was speed and fitness. There was very little sophisticated flatwork, as was the norm for Fateful, or careful pressure, as it was with Fleet Apple. Instead it was walk, trot, canter and gallop….every day. You had to be tough because Danny was always going to test you.

Danny hated the vet and had to be tied up a good 30 minutes before the vet arrived or you would not be able to catch him in the stall. He had a ritual at every show. I would hand walk him around grounds when we first arrived at a show. That, of course, is not unusual, but he would smell the ground and paw and carry on a bit. If he laid down and rolled while walking through the schooling ring, I knew he had somehow made this place his own and eventually I came to realize that he would be very successful at that show where he displayed this behavior….crazy, right? But it was a consistent habit and the results were undeniable. When he didn’t roll I would become justifiably concerned.

Fateful and Danny traveled together but they didn’t care for each other. It was always a bit tricky getting them on the truck and they never were stabled next to each other. They were competitors in and out of the ring.

Danny had great speed and I could take chances with him because the more I went for it, the better he jumped. His (and my own) back-up plan was Fateful, who was slow but always produced a clear round.

Danny‘s best always came out at the Cow Palace. He ran faster and jumped higher for the great crowds that were always there for the night performances and would cheer him on. He won the Championship three times; 1974, 76 and 77. He won the Pacific Coast Year-End Championship several times and, at that time in my life, was very instrumental in keeping food on the table with his winnings.

In 1978, at 17, he competed in Spruce Meadows for the USET. That was to be his last competition. He then was retired at the Cow Palace and returned home to enjoy his time in the field.

Every Destination Has A Journey Behind It

All three of these extraordinary and complicated horses were the foundation of my career. They taught me. They formed my opinions and shaped my character. They gave me no room for being comfortable with “good enough.” They required full participation. They had no similar traits in size, conformation, ability or attitude. The lessons that they taught, as all horses teach, are life lessons…if you will listen.
Author DiAnn Langer is a lifelong sport advocate, currently serving as the U.S. Show Jumping Young Rider Chef d’Equipe/Technical Advisor.

The Godfather

The Godfather – Lifetime Equine Hall of Fame
by Dianne Grod

I had the honor of riding a lot of great horses in my career but my “lifetime horse” will always be The Godfather! The whole Godfather (or “Papa,” as he came to be called) story would take more space than I have for this article, but I will give you a sneak peak at our time together and what he meant to me. The rest of the story will be in that book I hope I live long enough to write.

I got Papa in 1973 from Rodney Jenkins’ wife at the time, Patti. RJ had a love/hate relationship with him as he was a notoriously bad hauler and his hauling antics got him injured one too many times and the list of the stuff he destroyed in the process was long. She called me and said she had a hell of a jumper I needed to see, but at the time I wasn’t looking. I sent a friend to try him and his reason for not buying him was because he jumped too well and he thought they “prepared him” before he got there.

Knowing that wasn’t true, I was on the next plane.
We sent our whole van lined with mattresses on all walls, with no stalls, to get him. From the moment I got him home it was a love match. However, before I could sell him to someone to keep me on him, Steve (Grod) sold him to a client for her personal horse. It was my job to prepare him for her, which I did sadly but dutifully.

The first time out he won the first Open Jumper class at Del Mar National with her. It didn’t go well after that and he was for sale again. This time we sold him to a new client for me to ride. Just as partial proof how “odd” his new owner was, I had to carry voodoo objects (her demand) in my pockets when I showed him. She was very into the occult and I have lots of those stories as well during those years (’73 to’78).

During that time we won so many things it will be hard to give exact details: I was Leading Rider several times at Del Mar National, The Forum, Santa Anita and wherever they awarded it. He was Champion on a regular basis and, in ’76, I was named Leading Foreign Rider at the very first Spruce Meadows Masters show and was Reserve Jumper Champion to Michel Vaillancourt on his Montreal Olympics silver medal mount.

In 1968 I was able to live my dream of riding in my first Nations Cup Team for the United States the first time it was offered at that year’s Spruce Meadows Masters show. It was an all-woman team with myself, DiAnn Mitchell (Langer), Linda Allen, Susie Hutchinson and Anne Kursinski . We ended up third out of five or six teams.

I won quite a few Puissance classes on him also. He would literally jump anything you put in front of him. Grand Prix competitions were just starting to happen out here and he won or placed in just about all of those we entered. In 1973 we placed fourth in the prestigious American Invitational Grand Prix with just a foot in the water and, in 1973, we were 10th in the American Gold Cup Grand Prix in Philadelphia. Up to that point no California rider had ever placed in those two events.

In 1977, I beat Butch Thomas on Aramis (I love to tease him about this!) in the NBC Challenge of The Sexes on TV. A year or so later, we loaned him to my friend Tab Hunter for the NBC Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes, where he won against Linda Blair and The Britisher.

After riding him on the team in 1978, I had a falling out with his owner Berenice Schneider and he was sent to Linda Allen to ride. With her he went to Europe in 1979. He placed in three or four Grand Prix there and made Linda Leading Lady Rider at one show in Germany. He also placed with Linda in the Hickstead Derby, which is a huge deal. After Linda was forced to quit riding, he also won the Santa Anita Jumper Classic with Carine King.

Sutton Place

Modest Man

I managed to rescue him in around 1991 and he had to be put down in 1993 due to complications from purpera. He is buried at my farm in Temecula. Prior to that he enjoyed a great life of trail riding with his longtime groom Lynn McClanahan. There is so much more in between but you will have to wait for the book. We are thrilled that he is being inducted into this year’s CPHA Jumper Hall of Fame.

Author Dianne Grod continues to be a bright force in our industry. She coaches, officiates and is a busy equine appraiser.

Sutton Place – Lifetime Equine Hall of Fame

Modest Man – Lifetime Equine Hall of Fame