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In Memoriam:
Don Derrick
April 7, 2004 - January 29, 2024

Don Derrick has had a tremendous competitive career.

     After 18 years together, Derrick left our family after fracturing a hock in the pasture.  He was simply the best horse we could have hoped for.  I started him at two, took him to Grand Prix and earned my personal best score of 71.9 on him. He went on to go beyond our wildest dreams,  introducing us to the international dressage world when Anna made the US Young Riders European team on him.  Andrew then had a turn with him and learned all the Grand Prix work.  Our family is not complete without him.

From Anna:

     Derrick has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember, from the first day he arrived on the farm and Mom somehow convinced him to hold an American flag in his mouth. Derrick's even-keeled temperament often made him a safer choice for kids' activities than the any of the older horses on the farm, and I dressed him up in costumes and rode him through obstacle courses when he was only a few years under saddle and I was still a tiny child.


     I was 17 and graduating from high school when Mom (for the most part) handed the reins over to me for Derrick to fulfil his destiny as my young rider's horse. Derrick had recently started competing at Grand Prix, and although I had already competed through PSG with Indy and Higgy, every horse is a new teacher, and I could barely get Derrick to canter the first few months. By that summer, though, we placed in the national championships in FEI Juniors, and we were well on our way to Young Riders in 2017 and 2018 and the U25 in 2019. Looking back, it feels like it was all one great upward trajectory, but there were so many bad rides, bad tests, bad shows; times I didn't think we could do it. Nevertheless, Derrick, although incredibly grumpy in the barn and to other horses, was always honest under saddle, and the harder I worked to get things right, the more we improved. He eventually made my greatest dreams come true when we made the 2018 European Young Rider Tour, won Freestyle Gold at the 2018 NAYC, and then went on to do my first Grand Prix and earn my USDF Gold Medal. Derrick taught me resilience, dedication to a goal, and how to believe in myself enough to win. He opened up a world of opportunities for sponsorships and to work with top trainers, and I learned skills that I now call "communications and stakeholder engagement" in my corporate job.


     But when I remember Derrick, none of that really matters. I'm grateful for the opportunities we had and everything they taught me, but it's not the competitive success that matters. Derrick was my best friend through my time in university, when I was figuring out who I was and I just needed someone to lean on. I don't remember the dressage tests. I remember going on long hacks around the farm and letting him eat grass with the bridle on even though I knew I shouldn't; hand galloping up Gary's hill where there's no fence between us and the road and trusting he would stop at the top, which he always did; wandering through the woods in Belgium by ourselves, stumbling into the front yard of an actual castle, and doing a quick about face before we got arrested for trespassing; doing one tempis bareback while riding on top of his blanket because it was pouring rain but I'd been inside studying for finals all day and just wanted an escape; turning up my music when we were alone in the barn and complaining about my schoolwork to him; staying out hand grazing for way too long during night check at shows because I could stare at the stars and listen to Derrick munching grass all night long. I trusted Derrick and I think he trusted me too, even if he did see me as most useful for providing treats. I think it's that depth of trust that made my love so deep and our relationship unlike any I had with another horse. Derrick is irreplaceable. But I'm so grateful that we had the time together that we did.

From Andrew:


     From the last horse viewed on a week long shopping trip to a member of the family.

     Derrick's personal best of 71.92 in the Grand Prix with Dawn was a highlight of a career filled with highlights. He attended the USDF nationals from inception - 2nd level through GP. He showed at Regionals from 3 yrs old to 15 when he won Regionals at I2 with Anna. He took Anna to Europe on the Young Rider's Tour in 2018, showing in CDIs at Compiégne, "little" Aachen and Future Champions at Hagen. They returned to North America winning the Freestyle Gold for Young Riders 2018 NAYC.


     Thanks to the Pandemic, Derrick became a schoolmaster. Just a month before passing he gave Andrew a 65% at I2 - he knew the test better than I did!


     What he meant to me was that there is beauty and joy possible in this crazy world. He rewarded my hard work by doing what we all wish for from the world - fairness. Maybe too much but I felt he was just.


Derrick was a two years old when imported, and yet he was always an old soul. Opinionated but collaborative. 

From Dawn:

     Every day I could ride Derrick was a good day.  He was my heart horse. I have ridden many very good horses, but no other could match the magic feeling of balance between lightness and power that Derrick gave me.  He was a gift in my life every day of the 18 years we knew him. My horse world will never be the same without him.


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