For this Fall's chat, I want to introduce you to my grandmother, Sadie Rich, another friend of the Arabian Horse from bygone years.
Marjorie Van Gilder was lying in a hospital bed recovering from serious injuries the result of a car accident. Her widowed mother, Sadie Rich, rushed in the door, excitedly announcing, she had just purchased a horse, an Arabian horse. Marjorie had a good start in the Arabian business. Her mother could not wait to tell Marjorie she was joining her in her love of the breed. That was 1947.
Years later, she was asked how she got started with Arabians she said, “I always worked all my life. My folks were pioneers that settled in Hood River. When I was left alone, I wanted to do something. I’d been around animals all my life and my daughter got me started in Arabians. I quickly had a string. They multiplied like rabbits.”
Without doubt Arabians gave Sadie, “something to do.” At 87 Sadie still maintained a small band of Arabians, handled her stallions, cleaned her own stalls, sat up at night with her foaling mares, and then halter-broke the foals. That year she told the story of climbing her neighbor’s fence to halter a newborn foal so deeply she believed in the babies learning early the ways of humans.
She may be best remembered for her grand old sire, Buddi #2711, son of desert-bred Caravan #1558 out of Auroura #1206 by Oriental #529. Buddi sired 31 purebreds. Just a sample of the success of her breeding program can be seen in the room full of ribbons brought home by her stallion, Muhuli’s Magic. This stallion is still standing to Abu Farwa-bred mares at age 30. Another of her stallions, The Masterpiece # 135719, was a successful flat-track racehorse. His race record was 2/7(1-1-0-3)1. Sadie’s program produced such remarkable mares as Favor #2804 (Ferras x Rifarda by Rifnas), MV Fashionette #256326, and Rondi #7810 each of whom went on to bless Van Gilder Arabians with many outstanding foals.
Sadie served in virtually every capacity within the Arabian breed organizations. She retired as an American Horse Show Association judge and steward. She gave many hours to youth clinics and 4-H shows. She attended the first judges’ seminar ever sponsored by the International Arabian Horse Association and missed very few in subsequent years. She was the winner in one Washington judges’ clinic for her abilities and scores on her judging tests.
She was a charter member of several Arabian associations and was the first person to come up with the idea of holding committee meetings at the International convention. She missed very few National Arabian shows. She attended 17 straight IAHA conventions. Her interest in Arabians took her on international travels including a Hawaiian cattle ranch; the Crabbet Stud, England; and a trip to see horses in Russia long before the Iron Curtain came down.
Her interests were not limited to international doings. She was one of the originators of the first All-Arabian, All-Gelding Show in the country. She was instrumental in forming the first Half-Arabian Club, the Pinto Club, and the Pacific Arab Club. She also had a hand in the formation of the Appaloosa Horse Association. She was an active member her church, the Grange, the Cattlemen’s Association, and the Wheat Growers Council—she owned a working wheat ranch in Sherman County, Oregon.
Dedication to the Arabian horse, you bet. She would jump into her car on a moment’s notice and offer her services if it would further promote the Arabian breed. Her dedication was recognized in 2004 when she was posthumously invested in the Eastern Crabbet Arabian Horse Society’s Hall of Fame.
Over and above her involvement with Arabian organizations was Sadie’s commitment to the Arabian horses themselves. When she talked about Arabians, horse people listened, “You’ve got to teach an Arabian. Don’t demand. Go at it slowly. Teach them good manners when they are very young, then they’re no problem.”