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Pat Tataronis Orcutt Remembered In New England Ladies English Pleasure Championship


by Diana Davidson

It was only a few weeks after New England 2005 that many of us from the Morgan community gathered again, at a memorial service to bid farewell to a legendary horsewoman, who for more than four decades as trainer at Burkland Farm had been a fixture at this horse show, Pat Tataronis Orcutt.

At that memorial service, a pledge was made to begin The Friends Of Pat Tataronis Orcutt fund, to raise money and to find a fitting way to keep her memory with us at this horse show. The result has been to dedicate the Ladies English Pleasure Championship at New England to her memory.

It is probably unnecessary to recall for this audience the roll Pat has played in the Morgan breed and at this horse show. Her early wins with Saracen and Vigilendon established her as a gifted horsewoman, her rides aboard the likes of Command Performance, Gay Cavalier and so many others were legendary and many of them took place right here in the Northampton Grandstand ring. In recent years, you could count on Pat to bring futurity horses to show at New England of various ages for Burkland Farm, and you could generally count on her to bring the one you had to beat. The photo of Pat on the front cover of this year’s program is of her showing a weanling in the New England futurity.

Rather than recount her many well-documented accomplishments, we thought it would be appropriate, during the pinning of the Ladies championship, to repeat the words of a fellow horsewoman who had the occasion to sum up the career of Pat Tataronis Orcutt in a 2003 magazine article.

“Pat Tataronis was the first professional horsewoman I ever knew. As a matter of fact at that time I didn’t even know one could be a professional horsewoman. In a way Pat broke a lot of barriers for those women who tried to follow her example. She was formidable in the show ring and basically couldn’t be beaten. When Pat was around we were all looking at a red ribbon because she had the blue. But more important that all those blue ribbons was her supreme confidence in what she did. Pat Tataronis was proof positive that a woman could do anything with a horse that a man could. And that wasn’t common thinking in the 60s. All of us lady horse trainers should bow down to Pat, because in a large part we have to thank her for our careers.”

Those are the words of Vermont lady horse trainer Bonnie Sogoloff paying tribute to Pat.

To further pay honor to this memorable woman the Friends Of Pat Tataronis Orcutt have commissioned a “relief sculpture” of Pat as a trophy for the Ladies English Pleasure Championship. The winner today and in future years will get to keep the trophy. It does not have to be returned. It is our way of keeping alive the memory of this icon of the Morgan show world and also our way of saying good-bye to someone who kept her final illness so private.

Many horsemen over the years have benefited from Pat’s mentoring. Two of the most recent are Joshua and Caleb Noble, the grandsons of Dr. Bob Orcutt, who spent much of their time growing up at horse shows under the watchful eye and hardworking example of “Pat Tat”. Josh and Caleb join us today in center ring to make this presentation.

The first to earn the distinction of winning this trophy was the team of Queen’s Proud Mary and Sandy Hendrick who triumphed over a field 19 outstanding entries. Hendrick was justifiably proud.

“I am really honored to win this trophy. There aren’t a lot of people you meet who are as genuine and kind as Pat. Her beliefs and passion for this breed were without question. She had the greatest attitude…Pat was always smiling. I remember her energy and positive attitude,” Hendrick reflected.

“Pat was always so generous with her time. I remember when Pete and I were just starting with Morgans, she seemed like the first person we always saw at the shows and she always wished us luck. She was a great ambassador for this breed and a symbol of why we do this. She worked so hard for the people, for the horses, and for the kids. She was the old guard without any pretense.”

“It’s so wonderful that so many people got together to do this trophy and it was a great honor that she so deserves. I’m sure would love the idea of it all. It was quite a thrill to win, and I’m sure Pat was smiling down on Mary and I with a twinkle in her eye.”


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