Seven remarkable people and an incredible racing mule named Black Ruby were inducted into the Equus Hall of Fame at the annual Equus Awards on March 24 at the Flamingo Hotel.
The Sonoma County Horse Council, an organization representing the county’s annual $200 million horse industry, sponsors the Equus Awards. The awards honor people and equines who have made outstanding contributions to the county’s horse industry.
Black Ruby, a 19-year-old mare owned by Mary and Sonny McPherson of Healdsburg, did not attend the Equus Awards banquet at the Flamingo but she was the star of the evening. She was honored for her lifetime achievement and winning role in advancing mule racing locally, nationally, and internationally.
According to the NY Times, “To say that Black Ruby is the Secretariat of mules is a bit unfair. Secretariat never won 57 races, nor was he named Champion of his breed five straight times. He did not hold the world record in three distances. Black Ruby has done that and more. She is one fast mule.” The NY Times featured Black Ruby mid-career; she had much, much more to accomplish.
Black Ruby raced successfully from age four to age sixteen, when the American Mule Racing Association (AMRA) mandates retirement. Mule races include males and females racing against each other. Given the mixed field, Black Ruby’s successes seem even more impressive. She has been called “the winning-est racing mule of all time,” by publications all over the world, from the Press Democrat to the London Times.
Black Ruby has enjoyed an extraordinary career. She has 119 starts, with seventy wins, twenty-two second places, and fifteen thirds. The AMRA named her the World Champion Sprint Mule seven straight years in a row (1997-2003), Long Distance Champion in 2003, and Speed Index Champion in 1996.
Perhaps most importantly, Black Ruby put mule racing on the map. Her success has earned her not only national, but international attention.
She has been featured in Featured in Sports Illustrated, the NY Times, the London Times, Equus Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Thoroughbred Times, Blood Horse, the Daily Racing Forum, and Caballo (Mexico). ABC TV, CBS TV, and Channel 50 (local) have covered stories on Black Ruby. Black Ruby was inducted into the National Mule Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.
According to Sonny and Mary, it is a privilege to own such a serious athlete. Although Black Ruby did not come from racing stock, she loved her job, and always did her best. While Black Ruby is officially designated as “retired,” the description is hardly accurate. She is currently employed at her home in Healdsburg guarding the pasture and babysitting the yearlings and two year olds.
The seven people inducted into the Equus Hall of Fame are:
Chris Brown has received an Equus Award for his dedication to teaching and advancing the discipline of Cutting in Sonoma County.
Chris, born in Australia, began to ride at age three on his family’s horse Tish. As an adult he spent eight years in the Outback learning ranch operations.
In 1972, Chris came to the United States to learn about training and breeding Quarter Horses. He worked with Leon Harrel, a national champion rider and one of the Cutting horse industry’s top trainers. Leon taught Chris how to ride Cutting horses and Chris immediately got “bit by the Cutting bug.” Thirty years ago he moved to his ranch on Sonoma Mountain, started training and showing Cutting horses, winning numerous championships. Chris found his true calling teaching others, focusing on amateur and non-professional riders and their horses. Over the years, many of his students have become regional and national champions.
Chris’s efforts have been instrumental in improving the Sonoma County horse industry. He co-founded the Vintage Cutting Horse Association (VCHA) over thirty years ago, and served as President eleven times. He has helped operate VCHA shows since the club was formed. Chris is an approved National Cutting Horse Association judge and provides his expertise at local clinics, shows, and high school rodeos.
Chris is a role model and inspiration for many people. His positive progress in his fight against cancer has been a miracle demonstrating his will to live and dedication to riding and training horses and riders. Chris is well-respected and loved across the country for his skill and generosity, his dry Australian sense of humor, and his willingness to help anyone, anytime.
Chris currently lives in Petaluma with his wife, Cecelia, and son, Sam. They share the ranch with four dogs, a large assortment of parakeets, finches, and canaries, and twenty horses.
The late Edna Draper has been awarded the first posthumous Equus Award for her introduction and promotion of the Arabian breed in Sonoma County and across the United States.
Edna had the typical young girl’s love for horses. Due to an early injury to her back, Edna never actually rode, but she was an expert handler. She competed in halter classes, and knew champions when she saw them. Edna’s horses were so well trained that her stallions could be led by just their manes wrapped around their necks.
Edna lived in Northern California for sixty-five years, and in Sonoma County for thirty-three years. Edna and her husband Jim imported the first purebred Arabian horses from Spain in 1932, which were the foundation for the famous Jedel Arabian Horse Ranch. The first horses arrived in California by boat. Because Edna and Jim did not have a horse trailer, they led the horses by hand outside their station wagon to the ranch. Over the years, Edna developed a pure and high performing line of true desert-breed Arabian horse. At one time, she had the largest Arabian horse ranch in California. Edna’s Arabians produced many champions including the first National Champion Stallion, Mujahid, and the first National Champion Mare, Surita. Edna won eleven Legion of Merits. To this day, winning Arabians in both the US and Canada trace their lines to Draper breeding. Edna’s horses have been used in films such as “Beau Guest,” and “Suez.” Wayne Newton’s purchased his first Arabian, SuraJoy, from Edna.
In 1982, a large gathering of Arabian breeders honored Edna’s contribution to the Arabian line, and President Reagan sent a telegram to the celebration congratulating Edna on her success.
Edna Draper passed away in 1996 at the age of eighty-nine. She is survived by her sons Ted, Jim, and EJ, and daughter, Edna Lee, who all live in Northern California
Hope and Ned Glynn
Hope and Ned Glynn have been selected for Equus Awards for their contributions to the Hunter Jumper discipline in Sonoma County.
Hope started riding as a junior in Sacramento, coached by her mother, Pricilla Hobday, and Patty Ball. She became professional after graduating from UC Davis. Ned grew up in Petaluma and rode under the coaching of Gry and Duncan McFarlane. As a junior, he was already a champion. He coached the UC Davis equestrian team, and then traveled back East and rode with grand prix rider, Candice King.
Hope and Ned have been married twelve years. Together they started Sonoma Valley Stables in 1997, where they train amateurs and horses in the disciplines of Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation. Ned and Hope are highly accomplished competitors whose many high level achievements cannot be listed in such a brief biography. Ned was Chef D’Equipe of the 1.4 meter team of Norcal riders at the Spruce Meadow Skyliner in July. Hope was Reserve Champion nationally in the Emerging Professional World Champion.
Hunter rankings. She was Champion at the Hampton Classic, Kentucky National, and Middleburg Classic Horse Shows this summer. As a team, Ned and Hope are accomplished trainers of the next generation of riders. Ned has trained the only northern California rider to qualify for the FEI Young Rider Championship in Kentucky, and two of his students were silver medalists on the 1.30 Prix de Nations team at Spruce Meadows in 2011. Hope has trained over fifty year-end champions for pony, children’s, and junior Hunters in the last five years. One of their highest achievements is the frank professionalism and sportsmanship they role model for their students. Their influence raises the bar for Hunter Jumpers everywhere.
Hope and Ned live with their daughter Avery in Petaluma. They share their home with their dog, Spanky, and feral cat, Lulu. Wally, the wonder pony, shows with Avery in walk trot classes.
Sandy Kriegsman has won an Equus Award for display of leadership in promoting the health and well being of horses in Sonoma County.
Sandy’s first memory of horses was as a five year old leading a pony following a photographer door to door. She wore a cowboy hat and chaps and posed for photos. She finally got her own horse when she was nine years old.
In 1976 Sandy moved to Sonoma County. In 1994, she founded Sanbar Dressage in Petaluma, a facility for Dressage riders to practice their discipline, and where horses enjoy a safe and comfortable environment doing what they do best.
Sandy has contributed in many ways to the well being of the horse community. In 2006 she founded BRONC, the Barn and Ranch Owners Association of Northern California. This organization provides a forum for barn and ranch owners in Sonoma County to share resources, information, and provide education to the public regarding important equine issues. In 2007, Sandy developed and produced the HORSE RESOURCE: An Essential Guide to Horse Care, Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. The HORSE RESOURCE provides valuable information aiding horse owners in making informed choices about boarding, training, equipment, and services for all breeds and disciplines.
Sandy lives with her husband Jim and assorted animals in Petaluma.
Sarah Reid has won an Equus Award for her dedication to equestrian access on trails and in open spaces.
Sarah always wanted a horse, but didn’t realize her dream until age twenty-two. She discovered trails with her horse, Verdi, at age twenty-eight. Since then she has dedicated herself to trail preservation and equestrian access, now riding her horse, Oreo.
Sarah’s family moved to Santa Rosa in 1967. She has been camping since a very young age. Her father backpacked her in to the Grand Canyon when she was not yet two years old, at which time she thinks she began her first thoughtful observation of trail design. A lifelong Girl Scout, Sarah was always outdoors, focusing on service and resource management.
In 2003, after an accident in Annadel State Park, Sarah and Oreo encountered the Ca State Parks Mounted Assistance Unit. She joined and served as president for over two years. She remains on the board, and also serves on the Regional Parks Mounted Unit board, with whom she also patrols. Sarah was awarded Outstanding Volunteer by Sonoma County in 2009 for her dedication to Regional Parks. She has accumulated over 2,000 hours of combined patrol service. She has participated in every state park fundraising event in the last three years.
Sarah participated in the equestrian access plans for Tolay Lake, Taylor Mountain, and Hood Mountain Regional Parks, and Willow Creek State Park. Sarah facilitates collaboration among all user groups-cyclists, hikers, and equestrians-making public presentations on joint stewardship. She represents equestrians in the Sonoma County Trails Council, and participates on trail crews. Sarah is the Trails and Open Spaces editor for the Sonoma County Horse Journal.
Sarah works four days a week so she can volunteer and ride the trails three days a week. She lives in Santa Rosa with her trail-loving husband, Ken.