The only video I could find of Sam Shepard with a horse is this scene from the movie “Ruffian,” portraying her maiden race, in which Shepard plays her trainer Frank Whiteley.
Thoughts of Sam Shepard may be more of theater, space exploration, and passionate family drama — less like a Norman Rockwell painting but more like Anakin Skywalker’s family.
But Shepard was a horseman, too. A former hot walker, rodeo rider, team roper, polo player, and breeder of race horses.
To paraphrase the old saying that usually references Texas, Shepard may not have been a Kentuckian, but he got there as soon as he could.
That he lived in Kentucky was sort of a best-kept secret. Horse country is proud of and protective of its celebrity residents, like New Yorkers manage to grant its celebrities safe passage down boisterous city streets.
According to this article in the Thoroughbred Daily News, Shepard was pretty good at breeding racehorses.
How I ended up going down this Google trail was reading a eulogy Patti Smith wrote for Shepard in The New Yorker. That they talked often about the Kentucky Derby made me curious. That she also suggests he go for a spin on Big Red in heaven sent me to straight to my web browser.
This blog post is the result.
I even wondered, which Big Red? I’m sure Smith means Secretariat, but what about the original Big Red, Man O’War, the mostest horse. He’s up there, too. I suspect Shepard is also rider enough to handle the “sassy” son of the rather savage Fair Play.
Shepard also kept cutting horses on his farm, so I also imagine he might enjoy a spin on Poco Lena.
Maybe Roy or Gene would grant him a ride with Trigger or Champion.
Maybe even Ruffian herself.
But considering Shepard’s long life with horses, I suspect he has a whole host of heavenly horses ambling up for attention upon his arrival. I’m sure he’ll enjoy seeing his long-lost friends.
In heaven, you never run out of carrots and peppermints.
Don’t miss this article in the Thoroughbred Daily News about Sam Shepard, horse lover.