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Retirement - CH The Bodega Bay

One of the all-time great five-gaited and five-gaited pleasure horses bid farewell to Freedom Hall on Thursday night. The festivities began with a recitation of CH The Bodega Bay’s life history and show career accompanied by video on the overhead monitors.


The in-gate swung open. With Bodega having carried so many riders to great victories, the crowd waited in anticipation to see who would be riding the big bay horse. Of course, it could be none other than Bodega’s favorite friend, Bill Becker. The crowd broke into instantaneous applause. Looking every inch the multi-titled world’s champion he is, CH The Bodega Bay and Bill Becker made pass after pass at the trot, slow gait, and rack.


After posing for the obligatory photographs, Bodega was stripped of his saddle and draped with a blanket of red roses. Becker then led Bodega toward the gate. Dancing in circles at an animated walk, Bodega looked as if he was not ready to leave the scene of his greatest victories. Becker held Bodega back while son Billy Becker serenaded them with “My Way.”


After the show, Bodega’s legion of fans joined Bill and Nancy Becker and all of their Shadow Run family in continuing the celebration of this magnificent horse. Always the ham, Bodega greatly enjoyed lots of treats and attention from his many friends.


In recalling the significance of this great horse to the Becker family, Jane Hart Becker recalled that when her father was recovering from his serious accident, Bodega was the first horse Bill Becker rode. In fact, he was the ONLY horse he rode for the longest time. What a great heart!


The following remarks were presented on Thursday night during the retirement ceremony at the World’s Championship Horse Show….



Admirers Of The American Saddlebred - It is with great pride that Bill and Nancy Becker, as well as past owners, trainers and riders, share with you tonight the celebration of a lifetime of achievement for an amazing show horse and much beloved friend...

It didn’t matter that this bay son of Penny’s Superior Stonewall and Copper Coin’s Zsa Zsa, a daughter of the great world’s champion producing Lady Trigg, was the smallest colt his first trainer had ever seen. When he stood in the pasture at the Jack Noble Stables dwarfed by the other mares and foals, his head went high above the rest to watch the low flying planes coming into Bluegrass Field.

His curiosity never stopped, nor did his growing. Breeders Ed and Linda Bassett of Carmel, Calif., had named their foals after bodies of water on their native west coast and The Bodega Bay was the moniker bestowed upon this tiny weanling. Without much fanfare he was sold to Denise Birdsell at six months of age. His formal education began with Jack Noble who recognized this horse’s desire to please and perform as a sign of great things to come. In June of 1991, they won their debut performance, the Three-Year-Old Five-Gaited Stake at Roanoke.

By the time The Bodega Bay was sold to Scott Smith the next spring, the long-necked gelding was standing over 17 hands tall. His attitude, expression and ability had also grown. Just a few months later under the direction of Wyatt DeHart and shown by Scott Smith, The Bodega Bay finished third in the National Five-Gaited Pleasure Horse World's Championship as a four -year-old.

Twelve riders and 10 world's titles later we bid farewell to the horse that has done so much for so many.

His association with Bill and Nancy Becker began while they were part of Jill Bachman’s El Milagro in Calif. Eleven months and many blue ribbons after The Bodega Bay had made such a great show among the veterans in the National Five-Gaited Pleasure Championship, the Beckers selected him for Jensie Blake of Vacaville, Calif. A little over a month later at only 13 years of age, Jensie  rode The Bodega Bay to win the Juvenile Five-Gaited Pleasure World’s Championship and then came back to beat the best adult and juvenile entries to capture the National Five-Gaited Pleasure Horse World’s Grand Championship right here in Freedom Hall.

Gaited pleasure, Ladies 5-Gaited, Juvenile 5-Gaited, Open 5-Gaited...The Bodega Bay won major titles from coast to coast in each of those divisions throughout a 14 year career. Jack Noble, Scott Smith, Jensie Blake, Cassie McEuen, Deborah Orr Visser, Nancy Becker, Tasha Rose Sandler, Jane Hart Becker, Amber Lynn Lowry, Jessica Keys, and Anna Hormann all enjoyed victory passes aboard our guest of honor.

Actually, there was one more jockey. Trainer of CH The Bodega Bay for nine of those riders, Bill Becker is this horse’s number one fan. His favorite of all time among many great ones, The Bodega Bay was to be campaigned in the open division by Bill in 1996. In April of that year at Monterey they put on a show that had the Becker camp and many others thinking about the Gelding Stake on the green shavings in August.

However, that was not to be. A month later an accident took Bill out of commission for a length of time and the decision was made to let The Bodega Bay down for some rest. Immediately, he became lame, almost like sympathy pains for his human friend. When it was time for Bill to return to the training barn, so did Bodega and together the two of them were back in the game in no time, ready to give yet another rider a chance to fulfill dreams.

Now 17 years young, The Bodega Bay will enjoy a life of retirement at his family’s Shadow Run in Nicholasville, Ky. He won’t be very happy when the vans pull out for a show, but he will have more time to stick out his tongue on command when visitors drop by with peppermints.

Friends would you please join his trainers and owners, past and present, in giving a world’s champion send off to one of the great American Saddlebred ambassadors of the past two decades...forever a champion...The Bodega Bay.

             Bill Becker looks on while CH The Bodega Bay enjoys attention from a fan.

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