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CH Harlem’s Special Music Retires at NWSA Fall Classic


CH Harlem’s Special Music was formally retired

at the NWSA Fall Classic by the Hayden family.

Photo by Casey McBride.


(Editor’s note: The following speech was read by John Owens Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007, at the NWSA Fall Classic Horse Show.)

CH Harlem’s Special Music was foaled in 1992 and was owned by Nancy Swindler of Columbia, S.C.

In 1996, Laurel Nelson and Lester Corbett made a sojourn to Kentucky in search of a three-gaited horse for Laurel. They looked at many horses and had pretty much decided on buying Drakkar, when they took a look at Ray Yoder’s stable in Lexington. There was Harlem’s Special Music, a big four-year old almost purple gray horse that just set up and went about his business. He had a beautiful floaty trot and loads of charisma. Laurel left Kentucky with two horses.

In the tradition of Corbett Stables, the horse was nicknamed “Yoder” in honor of his first trainer. Once they got Yoder home, they discovered that he was indeed a bit more spirited than he seemed at Ray Yoder’s barn that cold day. He was a handful!


The canter was a work in progress, punctuated with dolphin-like leaps. The boy, however, loved his work. He never had a bad thought—he just felt really good. Generally speaking, the warm-up ring was the most daunting. Once in the show ring he just went about his business in a grand fashion. Yoder and Laurel went on to do very well in the three-gaited show pleasure division.

Yoder also survived an illness that most did not think he would. Pneumonia, as a result of a shipping mishap, nearly claimed his life in 1999 and he endured surgeries and a lengthy convalescence. He was a guest of Alan and Ginger Failor’s for a large part of that time. After recovering, Yoder once again entered the show ring, this time under the guidance of Dick Boettcher, with Scotty Green as his caretaker.

When the Haydens found out this beautiful gray horse was available in 2002, they thought he would be the perfect horse for their family. Yoder entered a new chapter in his show career, pleasure driving with Gary Hayden. He completed his official “CH” status the next year. An especially memorable year for Yoder was 2004, where he was undefeated all show season, starting with Monterey Springfest and finishing up with our own Fall Classic. Yoder has spent the last two years at home with the Haydens, where Courtney has shown him under saddle with continued success, winning his last class at C-Fair, and the Jennifer Gibson Memorial Trophy, for the second year in a row.

Yoder’s nature has always been friendly and playful. He loves to fling traffic cones, balls, and stand outside with the sun on his back. He particularly loves the latest addition to the Hayden herd, a little filly out of Happy’s Starlet. So tonight Yoder will bid a fond farewell to the show ring and go home where he will live out his days with the love and care he has earned.

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