Chief Will Be Missed

by Mark Palmer
excerpt from a
Executive Director Report


It is with great sadness that we report the death of Chief, a horse that has been such an integral part of the CKRH pro-gram for so many years.

Valiant efforts on the part of Barn Manager Sue Blake, Program Director Lauriston DaMitz, CKRH volunteers, the Kentucky Horse Park Mounted Police and the veterinarians at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee Associates were not enough to save our equine friend.

But, Chief lived a life of richness that few of us ever will. In his youth he was the grand champion of his breed. He sired 86 offspring and then because his
heart was quiet and full of love he was able to spend his last years giving joy and happiness to our students. I should be happy for his full life, for not all horses are so fortunate. But, I am sad that I will not get to spend more time with him. We all are.

Chief was so special to everyone at the Kentucky Horse Park that it is decided that he should be honored by burial here at the Park. Not many horses receive this honor but Chief was not just any horse. With the help of R.K. Walker I am able to bring Chief's body back to the place where he spent most of his life and where he will graze for eternity. The burial itself was quiet and peaceful.

As I left the barn this evening I noticed one of our volunteers quietly staring out on Chief's old field and T realized how close this family really is. Cards and poems and even scripture verses have begun to appear on our bulletin board. Chief was the great granddad to this program. We all knew that this day would come. Even at the end he was able to give us one last gift. He helped us realize how much we depend on each other.

Our mission is fulfilled not simply because a herd of horses and a few people believe in what we do. Instead, we are able to do what we do because many people come together as a family to support our mission and along the way support each other. As this program evolves and grows there will be difficult times. We must remember this lesson. Our strength is in our support and love for each other. That is what makes CKRH unique and that is what will keep us strong.

Someone left this on the barn aisle bulletin board: "Job 12:7 `but ask the animals and they will teach you'." Below it they wrote. "Thank you Chief for all that you have taught us about the difference we can make in each others lives." Amen.

Dedicated to the memory of
Lannan's Siri Superdot Chieftan "Chief'
April 30, 1968 - August 7, 2003