Aimee Witherspoon, dressage, Eventing

Ode to a Fallen Friend

Last week a friend of mine fell from her horse, suffered an irreparable injury, and died a few days later. While Aimee is beyond suffering, those of left behind are reeling, trying to make sense of the suddenness of her loss. Sorrow swirls through the season’s autumn leaves. The brilliance of their color is bittersweet.

Aimee & Alex (aka: Marshmellow). A beautiful partnership.


Aimee was an avid eventer and perhaps the most brave rider I have ever known. She knew the risks, studied the sport, and worked relentlessly to improve her riding. She loved the Northwest eventing community and took full advantage of the opportunities to train, compete, and celebrate with fellow riders.
I suspect that on that final October day she saddled up with a training goal in mind, eager to improve herself and her horse. I like to think that her final moment of consciousness was full of that joy and sense of anticipation.
Years ago, I accompanied Aimee on schooling sessions on the trails around Battleground Lake. She was developing her horse, Alex’s fitness and we’d do laps, galloping up the hills like maniacs. We scared more than one dog walker off the trail, yelling “Sorry!” as we passed. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a horse. Alex (aka: Marshmellow) was beautiful, fit, and full of himself. Aimee taught me to stand up in two-point, grab mane, and hang on.
We had a small group of friends known as ‘The Misfits’ and would kayak, hike, ride, and drink wine together as much as possible. We all knew we’d temporarily lose Aimee during the eventing season — when competing took priority. It was truly her passion.
And so, much as I miss my friend, I know she lived her life – right up to the end – pursuing what she truly loved. May we all be so fortunate.
As I saddled up this morning, I realized that I’m still riding in a dressage saddle I purchased from Aimee several years ago. As I care for it, I keep alive the memory of my friend. As I ride in it, I invite her to ride with me in spirit – perhaps infusing me with some of her courage and passion.
I’ve asked my trainer for a little extra help this week, admitting that the loss of my friend has been a blow. More than ever, I need to keep things positive with my horse and not let my confidence waiver. Aimee would want me to ride on.