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UPHA Sallie Wheeler Distinguished Service Award – David Freedman

Editor's Note:  The following speech was read by Vicki Gillenwater, Friday, Jan. 6, 2006 at the UPHA Convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Tonight I have the privilege of presenting the Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award to someone who has been a supporter of the UPHA and horsemen across every discipline for many years.

It is a fitting tribute to present this Sallie Busch Wheeler award to David Freedman, here in St. Louis, home of Anheuser-Busch, a company which proudly displays some of his greatest workmanship on its teams of Budweiser Clydesdales around the world.

Six generations of horseman have respected, admired and valued the harness and other equipment bearing the maker's mark of Freedman Harness Company.  It is synonymous with classic styling, timeless quality and legendary craftsmanship.  For more than 200 years, the Freedman Harness Company is the choice of royalty, heads of state, and owners of champion show horses and ponies.

Tonight we honor David for his dedication and service to the UPHA, the same dedication he gives to maintain his company's tradition of excellence, the same dedication that makes him an asset to every organization that supports equine endeavors.

David has given back to these groups through sponsorships and donations of his time and energy.  He is a contributor to the UPHA, the US Saddle Seat World Cup, the FEI North American Driving Challenge Series, the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, the American Hackney Society and countless others.

Friends, supporters, believers and clients who could not be here tonight asked me to share some of their thoughts about David.

Misdee Wrigley says, “David Freedman is a true Renaissance man.  He has the unique ability to combine innovation with tradition; to see the broad view while not missing the smallest detail; to build global teams while letting the individual shine.  He is a skillful communicator and an understanding listener.  He is a creative inventor and a talented craftsman.

“David is always there if we need him:  to sponsor an event; to fix a piece of broken harness - even if it isn't one he made; to give us advice. He is a dedicated father and husband and his family of friends is world wide.

“His saddles and harness have graced many champions, but in typical Freedman style, there is one piece of equipment -which he donated-of which he is particularly proud.  Three years ago, I asked David to make a coach horn case for a horn that was being given to the Queen of England.

“He made time in his schedule to create a magnificent case, and he was pleased when he found out Queen Elizabeth liked the horn and case so well, it was the centerpiece of her dining table during the Royal Windsor horse show.  But he was even more pleased when he spied the case on the Queen’s coach in competition the next year, and the Crown Equerry commented on how it was the nicest he had seen.

“David Freedman is not a harness maker.  David makes friends who use his harness.  I am proud to be one of David's friends.”

According to Chester Weber, “As a man who claims to have never trained a horse, David seems to have many opinions how we all should train our own. Many people say ‘it takes one to know one’ and as this relates to David and his accomplishments he might claim to not be a horse trainer but he sure knows one when he sees one.

“With that said, we must all recognize that this man seems to corner the market when it comes to championships across many disciplines with many horsemen.  The only problem with David is either the Canadian post is always late or David is unaware of what has really left the shop door.

“On a more personal note, his stories about skiing seem to make us all believe that he is the next Warren Miller Extreme Skiing film star, however I feel burdened to come clean with all of you fellow horsemen.

“If you take David off the hill in downtown Toronto to the Rockies even his big nose can't seem to get enough oxygen to his tired old limbs in that speed suit.”

Says Katie Whaley, “I am not surprised David is receiving this award. David Freedman has helped bring the world of driving into the 21st century without compromising the quality and tradition of the sport we all love so much"

After speaking with Skip Shenker… He decided that he couldn't repeat most of the stories he knows about Freedman, and the only one he did tell us, I decided not to repeat. However, his first words about David were that he is an outstanding harness maker and friend.

Unfortunately, Martha Stewart was unavoidably (restrained… oops ) detained and could not be reached for comment.

Tonight, I have the distinct honor of presenting the United Professional Horseman Association's Sallie B. Wheeler Distinguished Service Award to David Freedman, one of my truest supporters and closest friends.

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