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Robert Lewis Celebrates 90 Years Young

Legendary trainer Robert Lewis celebrated his 90th birthday at the California Saddle Horse Futurity. After the Saturday evening performance, nearly 150 people gathered at the Hinds Pavilion at the L.A. County Fairgrounds for a "Roast And Toast". Lewis was joined by family and friends, including his granddaughter Jeremy Lewis, for dinner and a video presentation highlighting his career of more than 70 years.

The event benefited the ASHA Foundation and California Saddle Horse Breeders Association, and ASHA Executive Secretary and longtime friend Alan Balch served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. A cocktail hour and reception preceded a delicious buffet dinner during which guests were seated at tables named after many of Lewis' most well known horses.

Balch started the program by thanking several people who worked very hard to make the evening possible including longtime customer Royalee Cleveland, CSHBA Director Michele Macfarlane, CSHBA Director Kim Matoza, CSHBA Nominations Secretary Mary Paine, CSHBA Treasurer Kathy Green, customer Kathie Dunn and Barbara Walker.

Balch also introduced California Saddle Horse Breeders Association President Larry Witter. Witter spoke of meeting Lewis for the first time in 1972 with Witter's wife Julie, when they were advised to talk to Lewis before buying a Saddlebred colt for $1000. The pair had been told "Nobody knows Saddlebreds like Bob Lewis." Lewis grew up in Texas and began training horses when he was a teenager. From Texas, Lewis proceeded to Utah and then finally to California where he lives today. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Lewis trained a long list of show ring champions including Monti Scott, Touch O' Spring, Best Of Both, CH Something Spring, Lovely To Look At, Maker's Mark, Mr. Bounce, Stonewall's King Pin, Snow Flurry, Corsica Lad, Sudden Impulse, Attache's Foxfire, Gazpacho, Cimarron Cis, Tickled Pink, Premier Fleetwood, Superfine's Hobo, Trefethen, Great Catherine, Fifi Genius, Supreme Feudist, Love Charm, May Day Modernaire, Jubilee's Danny Dee, Jubilee's Sequence, Creation's Hi Hat, Paprika Czardas, Honor Bright, Bo Radley, Hi Strutter and Fable's Irish Valley.

Lewis also trained the three-gaited horse Anacacho Revel that was ridden by Ashley Wilkes as he leaves for the Civil War in the movie Gone With The Wind. Some people say that Lewis actually rode the horse in the movie as actor Leslie Howard's double.

Lewis rode and competed throughout 2000 and then also showed one of his favorite ponies, Reedann's Aloha Lady. The pony is now owned by longtime customer Royalee Cleveland and retired at her farm in Kentucky.

There were so many champions trained by Lewis throughout his career and for many years, the Saddlebred industry in California had so many big, important horse shows that many of California's greatest horses didn't compete at the World's Championship Horse Show even though they were legitimate contenders for world's titles in virtually every division.

Many well-known Saddlebred trainer's worked with Lewis during his long career including Dick Boettcher, Jerry Cook, Marvin Ward, Lydio Lopez, Rich Swiger and Terry Conkle.

After the video, Balch invited guests to stand and speak about favorite stories or moments they had had with Lewis. Lydio Lopez, who worked with Lewis for more than 25 years, spoke of their longtime association. Michele Macfarlane credited Lewis with teaching her to ride a gaited horse in 30 days and teaching her how to win.

Trainer Bruce Dixon spoke of meeting Lewis at the age of 12 or 13 and the influence Lewis had on his career. Kathie Dunn, owner of the 1996-1999 California Futurity Five-Gaited Grand Champion Attache's Foxfire, who went to the winner's circle with Bob Lewis up, spoke of her longtime association with Lewis.

Famed horse show announcer Malcom Rosoll, who claimed to be the second oldest person in the room, also shared stories about Lewis.

Lewis, who is well-known for loving an audience, patiently waited for his turn to speak and after blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, told guests how much he appreciated the evening spent with friends, family and colleagues.

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