Duchess, foundation mare of Wildwood Reining Horses, dies at 36............

Ma Dear #411337 



On October 17, 2002, I lost a very dear friend. Duchess, my equine companion of 34 years, was laid to rest under an apple tree on our property.   I shall miss her.

I bought the pretty, chestnut mare in 1968 in Montana. I loved her on sight, but I could not know then the impact she would have on me, my family and my breeding program in the years to come. At that time, I was buying a prospective barrel horse. Indeed, she did succeed on the track and in the rodeo arena, but those talents were not her most valuable contribution to my life. The fine line of Wildwood Quarter Horses carrying her genes and years of loyalty and companionship is her bequest to me. Duchess (Ma Dear AQHA# 411337) was 36 years old when she died.

  In 2001, I hosted a 35th birthday party for Duchess. I brought out the old trophies, photos and awards, made a video of her life and invited everyone to celebrate the life of this great mare with us. This year, in honor of her 36th birthday, I made a “memory box”, a small wood chest completely decoupaged inside and out with photos and clippings of Duchess, one side with her foals, one with her showing career, one with kids she taught to ride, and of course, her golden years.  

As the song goes,  “the heart will go on.” There are still four generations of the “Duchess line” on our ranch. In 2003, God willing, her daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter will be all be adding to the dynasty!

Many thanks to friends, neighbors and Dr Bruce Baker for their kind assistance, caring and thoughtfulness in this difficult time.

Sharon  Gates

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