"I love you to the moon and back and I'm forever grateful for the amazing five years we had," Turner stated. Photo © Larry Williams

APHA World and Reserve World Champion HR Zip Me Passes

GoHorseShow is heartbroken to report the passing of APHA World and Reserve World Champion, HR Zip Me. On Tuesday, March 7th, he was euthanized due to complications with a soft tissue injury. The talented 12-year-old all-around paint gelding was well known to many in the industry.

“My heart, my soul, my once-in-a-lifetime partner has crossed the Rainbow Bridge,” his owner, Abbey Sheftel Turner of Travelers Rest, South Carolina stated. “I promised you a forever home, and I kept my promise. I will never be able to fill the hole in my heart that you have left. You will always be with me, heart and soul my dearest friend with so many names – 110, Noo Noo, TGWO, Speck, and The Noo. I love you to the moon and back, and I’m forever grateful for the incredible five years we had.”

The gorgeous overo gray gelding was by Zip Me and out of Dynamic Mac. He amassed nearly 5,000 APHA points, one APHA World Championship, five Reserve World Championships, and three APHA Championships. This past year, Turner and HR Zip Me were second in the nation on the APHA Masters Amateur Top 20 and won five honor rolls (Four APHA, one PtHA).

“I have been so lucky to have such a great horse in my program for so long,” Blake Carney, one of HR Zip Me’s trainers told us. “When we first started hauling him, people would often ask, ‘How are you keeping him sound?’ It would make me laugh because we weren’t doing anything special outside of routine maintenance; he was sound. Towards the end of this year, we started seeing small signs of something not quite right in his front end, and after an MRI, it was confirmed that there was irreparable soft tissue damage. And believe me, we looked into many opinions.”

Carney (pictured left with Turner) continues, “Speck was one of the most interesting horses I have ever had. He hated my arena at home from day one. We only rode him on half of it. He had his personal rules. It couldn’t be windy, couldn’t be cloudy, couldn’t have too much going on outside the arena. However, once you learned his quirks were his quirks, and he was still going to do his job, in the end, you just laughed off the little spooks and hops.”

Carney said that Speck took care of Abbey and all three of them were able to achieve things that he never thought possible. “I’m so grateful that he and Abbey came into my life, even though they both drove me a little crazy. Abbey will continue to make me crazy for the both of them,” Blake says with a laugh.

Turner and Speck’s other trainer, Laren Harmon Dubin, was always impressed by this team. “It has been said the biggest difference between a good athlete and a great athlete is a Champion has the guts to show through the pain. Abbey and her great white horse each had more guts than anyone will ever know. I knew. I always knew.”

Former owner, Beverley Bass shared her thoughts about his passing. Bass showed Speck a few times, but he was mainly shown by her daughter, Paige Stawicki.

“Our hearts are so broken as you can imagine. In 2007, I saw him jogging down the middle of the world show pen for the 2-year-old western pleasure class. I told myself right then that I wanted that horse. It had taken another year and a half before I got the deal done, but we gave him to Paige (pictured right) for Christmas in 2008,” Bass recalls. “I know it sounds so cliche, but he truly was a once-in-a-lifetime horse. He put many smiles on our faces, and there is no doubt he will be nearly impossible to replace. I am grateful for the opportunity to have owned this incredible animal, and my thanks to Harlene and Russell Rowe for giving us that opportunity.”

Paige shared her fond memories about Speck with us. “He will always be one of the greatest and was taken far too soon. He gave me 110% every single ride and taught me more than any human ever could. Speck had the biggest personality and was truly my best friend. I can’t thank the village of people it took to keep him comfortable enough for all their hard work dedication to such a deserving animal. At the end of the day, every decision came down to what was best for Speck, and as heartbreaking as all of this is, he’s in a better place now. I just hope there’s some little girl up in Heaven feeding him all the animal crackers in the world until we’re reunited.”

Erica Greathouse of Austin, Texas (pictured left) trained Speck for a while for Paige and Beverley and wanted everyone to know how special he was to many people in the industry. “He was one of those horses with a larger than life personality that could brighten even the worst day,” Greathouse remembers. “Although initially it was easy to be drawn to him because of his tremendous talent and striking good looks, anyone who truly knew him, knew that it was his huge heart and adorable, quirky personality that made him so special. He will forever live on in my heart through some of my most treasured memories. Some horses just leave hoofprints on your heart, and he was one of those special ones.”

View a slideshow below of some great pictures of Abbey and Paige with Speck over the years.