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Ed Frickey – To Know Him Was To Love Him


Ed and his beloved Buster at Lexington Junior League in 2005.


by Leeann Mione

Ed Frickey had a heart of gold. He will long be remembered for his generosity to not only his friends and family but to the Hackney, roadster, Saddlebred and Friesian industries as well. With his wife, Karen, by his side for nearly 35 years, Frickey made his name synonymous with excellence in every endeavor.

He had what some would call the “Midas Touch.” Ed was a world-class competitive swimmer, straight A student, champion trap shooter, scratch golfer, stage performer, football star and wore so many other hats with equal aplomb.

His accomplishments outside of the show ring were many. His accomplishments in the industry are legendary.

He grew up in Topeka, Kan., and in high school he played the lead in his high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. He was so good and was in such demand that the school extended the run of performances three extra nights to accommodate the huge audience.

Before college Ed had a job working for a plot farm, carrying bags for them. One evening, on the way home from work with his boss, his boss fell asleep at the wheel and there was a terrible car accident. Ed broke 37 bones and arrived at Purdue University in a full body cast with a full football scholarship. Doctors predicted he would never walk without a limp and never raise his arms above his chest. Frickey, of course, proved them wrong.

Horses are what drew Ed Frickey and Karen Swezey together in Indiana. Ed rode hunters and Karen had a five-gaited Saddlebred at the same riding stable. Ed asked her out numerous times, but Karen wasn’t convinced at first. “I didn’t like him,” she said. “I didn’t want to like him. He was so loud and overbearing. My younger sister liked him and I couldn’t understand it,” she added. “He kept asking me and asking me and I finally agreed to go out with him. When we went out on our first date, I couldn’t believe how smart, talented and considerate he was. He turned out to be so charming and loveable.” The next morning, two dozen red roses were delivered to Karen at Stephens College where she was a member of the Prince Of Wales Club.

They were married just in time for Christmas on Dec. 22, 1971 and Ed gave Karen a Saddlebred colt as a wedding present. It would lead to a lifelong involvement with the show horse world for both Karen and Ed.

The same year, Ed and Karen attended the National Shetland Sale at the Lafayette County Fairgrounds in Lafayette, Ind. They purchased a black Shetland road pony named Fran R’s Chaparrel Cody. Ed showed in open and amateur roadster classes and Karen showed in ladies classes and between the two of them amassed an amazing number of blue and tricolor ribbons. Their association with great Saddlebreds included Bi Mi Sultan’s Wine, Bi Mi Sip-O-Wine, Chester Drawers, CH Starlike Airs, CH Mr. Casanova, American Wine, Catastrophic, CH Monster Man, CH Fury, Spirit Stuff and Karen’s favorite, CH Flash Gordon MW.

In 1990 they bought their first Hackney pony, Ballet. She went on to win the 1995 and 1997 Harness Pony World’s Grand Championships, four Harness Pony Mare World’s Championships, two reserve world’s grand championships and five reserve world’s championships.

As a team, Ed and Karen Frickey have been an undeniable presence in the Hackney pony industry and have been associated with some of the industry’s best, including Fancy Ribbons, Classical Dancer, Bristol Fashion, Trimmed In Brass, Aisle Party, Oliver Twist, Heartland High Time, Late Nite’s Midnite Mist, Regal’s Pride LF, King Creole, Mastercraft’s Captivator LF, Glory B, Her Excellency, Razzle Dazzle Me, High Life’s Pride, Cowboy Magic, Extremely Fine, Commando, Heartland Twice As Nice, Heartland Miss America, Heartland Expectation, Heartland Flurry, Extremely Sharp and Ed’s favorite pony, Hazard County, with whom he was undefeated for two seasons. The list of world’s, national and UPHA Classics Grand Champions that they have owned and/or bred is a long one and cements their reputation as one of the Hackney industry’s most important contributors. Teamed with Randy and Denessa Harper since 1994, trainers prior to that including Art and Jimmy Simmons, Zelpha Corkern, Ed and Jane Bennett, Lonnie and Renee Lavery and Pat and Jay Kennedy. They were a force to be reckoned with in the show ring.

Their support of the show industry took many forms. Ed, as a former golf pro and champion golfer, started the UPHA Golf Tournament, held at Lexington every year. He made and designed bits and tail braces, but didn’t sell them for money. He gave them away. He was president of the Indiana Hoosier Hackney Association and served on the board of directors of the American Hackney Horse Society. He was coordinator of the UPHA Live Auction, held annually at the UPHA/AHHS Conventions and he and Karen contributed generously to the UPHA, ASHA, AHHS and ARHPA as well as numerous chapters and horse shows throughout the country.

Ed was one of those people that if you didn’t know him, you probably knew of him. He was loud, outspoken and opinionated and swore like a sailor. But if you knew him, you knew that he was kind, generous and magnanimous. He would give you the shirt off his back.

Whether you called at four in the morning for him to come rescue you by the side of the road, or you were a 14-year-old champion equitation rider who needed a new horse, Ed was there to step up and help, no questions asked. He wanted life to be easy for those he loved and he would do anything to make that happen.

If you were a friend who needed help, Ed was your guy. When Ed and Karen relocated to their beautiful farm in Shelbyville, Ky., Ed not only donated their extra lumber to the Shelbyville Horse Show for their new barn, he took it over there himself.

He hadn’t had a road horse in years, but the ARHPA benefited greatly from his generosity. Frickey Farms is the site of their annual Christmas party and this year, will also be his memorial.
It seems there is no end to his influence on so many aspects of this industry and no end to the number of lives he touched. In 2002, he and Karen were presented with the UPHA Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award.

“Distinguished” and “Service” seem like fitting adjectives to place next to his name.


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