Just like everyone else in the USA, I was stopped in my tracks by the news that Team USA's own Amy Tryon has died.
Also like everyone else, I always thought of Amy as the eventer from "out there". She lived in Washington and wasn't part of the East Coast scene. But when she showed up, she rode to win--and often did.
One of my earliest bonding moments with Amy was when I found out that she worked as a firefighter to free up time for event training.
The second moment was when she announced that the inspiration for the cute name for her Big Horse, Poggio II, was a word on a wine bottle label.
Number 3? She bought the horse from a classified ad in a Seattle newspaper.
We live in a time where sports stars come and go. They wax and wane in careers that require incredibly hard work, steely nerves, and wheelbarrows full of cash (daily). Sometimes riders get the horses they need, sometimes they don't. In eventing, starting with a new horse--or even a set of new horses--can mean fading from the pages of the Chronicle and EventingNation.
Eventing stars come and go, but Amy stuck around for a long time. I might only see her ride once a year--at Rolex, at the very top of the game. The other rides would be on television or on DVDs.
Amy Tryon's character was unmistakable and she won't be forgotten here in this geographically-opposite corner of the USA. Probably for the rest of my life, I'll chuckle over wine labels and wonder if another world beater horse's name is hidden somewhere there.
But then I'll remember that it would take a rider like Amy Tryon to recognize it--and make it happen. To the rest of us, they're just words on a wine label.
I'm sure that more information will be available later, but for now I would like to share with you a fact-filled tribute to Amy from the FEI.
Amy Tryon, team bronze medallist for the USA at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, passed away yesterday (12 April).
Born in Redmond, Washington State on 24 February 1970, Amy and her older sister got their first pony when Amy was just one. She started competing at the age of five and rode at her first event when she was just eight.
She found her top horse, the former racehorse Poggio II, in a classified advertisement in the Seattle Times newspaper. Together Amy and Poggio represented the USA at two Olympic Games, Athens 2004 and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong, and two FEI World Equestrian Games?, winning team gold in Jerez de la Frontera (ESP) in 2002 and individual bronze in Aachen (GER) in 2006.
Amy was a firefighter until the summer of 2006, when she retired to dedicate herself full time to riding, basing herself out of Mapleleaf Eventing at Upson Downs in Duvall, Washington.
Captain Mark Phillips, US Eventing Team Chef d'Equipe, said: "Amy was one of my first developing riders on the West Coast and went on to be a regular member of the team for 10 years.
"We won the Worlds in 2002 and she was third individually in the Aachen World Equestrian Games. We will all miss her terribly. She was a central member of the team, and was part of some of our most successful years."
The FEI expresses its sincere condolences to Amy Tryon's husband Greg and her family, to the United States Equestrian Federation and to the international Eventing community.