Born August 16, 1990 at Happy Valley Farm, “Red” was the perfect combination of the delicacy and beauty of his mother, WC CH Buck Creek’s Precious Princess, and the gameness and intelligence of his sire, WGC CH Skywatch. He himself became a Reserve World’s Champion as just a 3-year-old in Fine Harness, before beginning his lifelong career as a five-gaited star the following year. under the tutelage of James Nichols at Cryst-a-Kell Farm in Paducah, Kentucky. In 1996, with James Nichols as new trainer, he was purchased by Mary White of Wichita for her granddaughter, Katie, to show in Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited. He was immediately meaningful to the family as he shared the same birthday as the family patriarch, Robert White, who had passed away shortly before Red’s purchase.
Katie and Red debuted together that fall in what might have been a fairly wild and exciting performance—Red made sure everyone knew he wasn’t going to be easy. But he taught Katie, and then her sister, Betts, a great deal about riding a game five-gaited horse, something they have both put to good use over the years. Betts inherited Red midway through 1999, and the two took the fall and winter to get to know each other. There were some exciting moments, both great and not so great, but when they finally came to know each other, they enjoyed some truly outstanding, hard to beat performances, winning at places like the All American Classic, the Germantown Charity, and the Big Easy, and getting top ribbons around the country at major shows like Lexington and Louisville. When Betts was ready for another horse, it was the girls’ mother Karen’s turn. A champion gaited rider in the 1960s and 1970s, Karen had taken a break from showing after having her girls, and was finally ready to get back to it, and Red was the horse for her.
Over the years, Red faced serious physical challenges. He had an eye injury as a young horse that affected his vision in his left eye, and within a couple of years, he actually fully lost that eye. Throughout his show career, he either had to wear a contact lens to cover his injured eye, and after its loss, a full fake eye, something that wasn’t always easy for him to handle. One of the funniest memories Betts has of showing him involves coming into the lineup after a long class at the Oklahoma Centennial, and his fake eye promptly falling out. The girls seated in front of the line-up started screaming, but our helpful groom ran in and grabbed it, and Red wasn’t bothered in the least. He wasn’t always easy with his eye, but once he was going, he never seemed to really mind—he powered through anything, even losing an eye.
The experience did age him quickly, and in 2003, the family decided it was time for him to retire. Over the years, he resided at Penny Lane Farm in Boaz, Kentucky, and then in Wichita, Kansas, where the Coups lived, and finally on Karen Coup’s farm in Columbia, Missouri. It was there that Red found his happiness—he became very close to the family’s beloved school horse, Callaway’s Adam, and also was able to freely graze on the farm. He followed Karen around while she did chores, occasionally slow-gaiting when he needed to move faster, and was a mascot for Katie’s growing lesson program based at the farm, LionHeart Riding Academy. A tough show horse, he was never able to become a lesson horse, but his big heart and absolute adoration of people shone through—he was everyone’s favorite. Even the tiniest of riders was not intimidated by the old one-eyed Saddlebred, and he loved each and every one of them. Red was spoiled and “ran the farm,” and every person on it loved him for it. Said to be a “dog disguised as a horse,” he was just as much a pet as he had been a true Saddlebred show horse. He was beloved by so many, especially his Coup girls, whose world would not have been, and will not be, the same without him.