Friday, April 29, 2016

Joe Fargis is One of a Kind

Last night at dinner I happened to run into Joe Fargis.  Some of you may not be familiar with the name,  but if you've been around horses for any length of time, you know his history.  Joe still rides but he doesn't compete in the big classes like he once did.  A few years ago, here in Virginia, he suffered a bad fall, and thank goodness he recovered.  But this man is the real deal, a one of a kind, a tough combination to find in someone as accomplished and well-known in his sport.

I interviewed Joe five or six years ago for an article I was writing at the time, and I cannot tell you how humble this man is.  And better yet, he is a true horseman.  His horses always come first for him and at the time of the interview he was competing an older mare, in her very late teens, at the Grand Prix level. I believe she was 19 at the time.  Horses don't last like that unless they've been cared for, well.  He told me he pulled his horses' shoes at the end of the season and turned them out for a few months, no jumping, very light riding until they went to Florida a few months later. 

When he had his accident I wrote him a note, hoping for his swift recovery, and he wrote me the kindest note on his own engraved, monogrammed stationary (I was impressed) which I have kept.  You can read about the fall here.

At dinner, he was kind and gracious, as always, a class act, the real deal. He's in town for two weeks of horse shows, but he's training riders, not competing at the Grand Prix level (our loss).

And in case you don't know Joe's story, he won a gold medal (team and individual) in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles on an American Thoroughbred mare, Touch of Class.  He went to the Olympics again in 1988 where he won a team silver medal on a mare, Mill Pearl.  He loves them, he once told me.  A man after my own heart. There's nothing better than a good mare.

 (Joe in more recent times)

 (Joe on Touch of Class)

(Joe meeting Nancy Reagan at the White House)

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