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Beloved Champion Met With Cruel Ending

Brass Tacks and Kevin Gibbons were a formidable team
winning championship after championship in the
Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony division.

by Bob Funkhouser

For anyone who ever lost a beloved animal friend you know it is always a hard, emotional trauma. When you have watched that animal grow and develop into a champion performer who always put it on the line for you, it’s even harder. But to know that animal’s last moments were spent in terror is unfathomable.

Such was the case with the death of the celebrated Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Champion Brass Tacks. A 1985 foal of the great Tijuana Brass and Casillis Gaiety, Brass Tacks was purchased by Kevin Gibbons as a two-year-old. From day one Tacks had his own idea about things and broke a few items along the way. He had a swift kick and good aim.

Kathleen Pasquariello’s Hedgerow Farm in
Ewan, N.J., was home to Brass Tacks along with stablemates Atta-Boy and Dun-Haven Pin-Up-Girl. Pasquariello was also Gibbons’ sister. The rowdy youngster had a few short stints with different trainers but then became a personal project for Gibbons. He had great faith that this pony could one day be a show ring star. Tacks responded to that faith and after a few shows as a road pony, settled in nicely as a pleasure driving pony.

It was under Gibbons’ direction that Tacks blossomed into one of the stars of the division on the east coast at a time when the division was just starting to grow. They went undefeated in 1992 and ‘93, winning several regional and national awards. In 1996 his show ring career came to an end due to repeated foundering.

Despite taking a little longer to get started each day and moving a little slower, Tacks lived a happy life in retirement at Hedgerow Farm. His extended family was there to love and take care of him in addition to his best friend and long-time trainer.

In the fall of last year, Gibbons and his wife were taking their first real vacation after five years of marriage when he received a horrifying phone call from his sister early one morning. Two 150 pound Mastiffs from down the street had broken out of their secured pen, came onto the farm and attacked the 20-year-old Brass Tacks in his turnout. Both dogs, which had been bred to be highly aggressive, were wearing shock collars.

Tacks sustained severe wounds to his midsection and shoulders and his legs were bad enough that his tendons ruptured and his ankles were broken. Brother-in-law Jerry Pasquariello and nephew Donald wrapped his legs to try and stop the bleeding and minimize the damage, but he was beyond saving. Brass Tacks was put down and buried on the farm.

The next day both dogs were surrendered to Animal Control and they were destroyed. The dogs were not registered or licensed.

“I didn’t even know these dogs existed less that a quarter mile down the road,” said Gibbons. “You really have to be aware of your surroundings.

“This could have been my niece, nephew or the kids from across the street who spend every afternoon on the farm. These dogs would have killed them in seconds. The only saving grace is that Tacks maybe sacrificed his life to save theirs.”

Besides the hurt of losing a grand pony and great friend, Gibbons has been extremely frustrated that he basically has no rights or legal recourse. A 20 year old pony doesn’t have much value in the eyes of the courts but there is no end to his value as a cherished friend.

Gibbons and his family are now looking into the legislation to make the  owners of animals like these held accountable. "They should be more responsible for something other than just surrendering their dogs," said Gibbons.


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