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Industry Saddened By Loss Of Susan Gordon

WHR Copyright 2006

by Sadie Fowler and Ashlea Wheelon

    Susan Gordon, of Orange, Calf., passed away Friday morning, Jan. 27 at the Western Medical Center ICU where she was being treated for injuries suffered in a tragic riding accident. Gordon, a very experienced rider and longtime customer of Russ Thompson Stables, was trail riding a friend's horse Jan. 19 when it spooked and she fell off, suffering from serious injuries including a brain hemorrhage. Gordon was progressing, however, a couple days before her death she developed pneumonia, at which time her condition worsened.
    Susan Gordon, wife of Arthur Gordon, mother of Kelly and Stephanie Gordon and grandmother of Ashley, was a strong presence in the Tennessee Walking Horse industry for many years.
    Susan married husband Arthur, a self-made CEO of a large clothing company, 28 years ago. Susan was also very involved in the clothing business before making the choice to stay home and take care of her loving children.
 She was a very accomplished equestrian who began her riding career on jumping horses. After suffering from an accident, she decided there had to be a better way to enjoy the sport she loved. At that point, her love switched to walking horses. Arthur, who remembered his first ride aboard the smooth-going walking horse, shared his wife's desire to become involved in the walking horse industry.
    In 1983 the Gordons joined Russ Thompson Stables and were soon completely immersed in the business. Susan Gordon remained an integral part of the Russ Thompson family for the rest of her life.
  "She meant the world to me," said Thompson. "She was an individual that loved the sport and loved the animal. All she ever wanted to do was to go to the top, but she never wanted to do it without the people that she loved. She was the most caring, humble and unassuming woman I've ever met. She was just a good woman who always did so much for everybody around her. She was
as good to me as anyone has ever been."
   The mare Ebony's Red Streaker was the first walking horse purchased for Susan to campaign and in 1984 she attended her first Celebration. That is where Susan Gordon's legacy in the Tennessee Walking Horse business began.
   By the summer of 1989 the Gordon's show string included Ebony's Go Boy Dream, Flashdance, Gen's Fire And Ice, Marker's Leading Lady, Moonraker's Madonna and Gen's Early Dawn. The Gordons had also purchased a farm in Middle Tennessee, Stone Gait Farm, which is the current location of Black Hawk Farm.
  Susan became a world champion amateur rider and walking horse fans looked forward to her famed rides aboard champion horses such as Pusher's Evening Star, My Lady Darling, Bad News Debut, Gen's Fire and Ice and, most recently, A Specialist.
   Gen's Fire And Ice was one of Susan's favorite horses and together, they garnered countless world and world grand championship titles. Another favorite of Susan's was A Specialist and they claimed their first Celebration victory in 2000 in the Amateur Specialty division. Susan and Arthur also owned 1994 World Grand Champion Gen's Armed and Dangerous at the time of his victory with Russ Thompson. In all, Susan and her family have won well over 60 world championships.
   Not only did fans enjoy her breathtaking performances in the big oval, but her family and friends, more importantly, loved Susan for her kind spirit, gentle nature and extreme generosity. It was not unusual for fellow California exhibitors to witness these traits at many of the California shows.
   Susan had many other talents that the California circuit had the privilege of enjoying. She spent hours of time, effort and money decorating center rings at horse shows. She also enjoyed using her creative talents by decorating Russ Thompson Stables' barn at the Celebration each year.
   She also hosted New Year's Eve parties for the horse industry, prepared gift baskets for more that 50 children during Easter, and donated many a riding habit to young girls just starting out in the business, according to an article written prior to Susan's and Arthur's 2002 induction into the Celebration Hall Of Fame. Susan absolutely loved children and there was nothing that she wouldn't do to touch the lives of those in need.
   "Susan Gordon was a lady of class, integrity, beauty, and grace that  never made anyone feel less than," said Danny Wooten, long time friend and employee.  "Trish & I hate the emptiness that this tragedy has left in our hearts, but the only other option would have been to have never known her at all."

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