More than a friend
Memories are coming back whenever it is time to leave. With “Velvet’s Grand Slam,” the Miller-Ranch lost more than a friend. On June 20, at the age of 20, he left to his last journey.
1996 Velvet’s Grand Slam came to the Miller-Ranch together with his sire “GMC Black Velvet”, when he was 3-years old.
He was a horse to fall in love with at once; it was not difficult for my wife, Monika, to find in him her perfect fit. At that time her mare “Deede” was in foal.
Right from the beginning, you could see, that he was a special horse with his loving character, his charisma – unusual for a gelding – and his soft gaits and surefootedness.
On one of his big trails, he was also used as a packhorse; it led us downhill into a branch of the Grand Canyon to the Havasupai Indians. They made us an offer to exchange one of our horses against 7 of their trained Mustangs; we thought they were talking about the stallion in our group. But instead the Havasupai pointed towards “Samy” as we called Velvet’s Grand Slam. Naturally he was neither for sale nor for exchange. But we fulfilled the Havasupai’s wish to let him and his children ride Samy at least once. Next day we rode again from our camp into the little village, and there was already a large audience waiting for him at the market place of Supai. He had made new friends not only for himself but for all Fox Trotting Horses and ourselves; because in general the Havasupais are not really very friendly towards visitors, they like to stay between themselves.
1998 Samy started his trip to Germany. Monika’s mare in Germany “Little Bald Eagle”, the dam from “Velvet’s MoMo”, unfortunately had a fatal accident at her boarding place. MoMo had just turned 3 months old.
Also here Samy was bonding very quickly with other horses and riders; he won many friends and admirers for the Fox Trotters in Europe.
It was not planned to entry Samy in 2000 for the 3rd European Championship in Linz, Austria. We did not have a trailer in Germany and it was necessary to find a transportation from Berlin to Linz. Linz, were the event took place, was at this time the center of the Austrian Fox Trotter population.
As a trail horse Samy had already shown, that he is a true son of GMC Black Velvet. Now he was also successful during his first tournament. With 5 European Champion titles he became European Champion of Champions 2000.
With Sonja Subblet he won the 25- miles endurance race; 30 minutes ahead of the horse, which came in second.
The judge in Linz was Max Phillips from Arkansas. When he saw Samy, perfectly foxtrotting his rounds in the 2-gait class and during the next class – the Pleasure Gait –going the single foot, he could not contain his enthusiasm; he congratulated with the words: “That’s a real Pleasure Horse”.
Many, who have seen Samy also later, knew that he was unbeatable in his special discipline, the Speed Fox Trot; he was unbelievable fast without breaking the gait.
In 2004 the Pleasure Gait Class was announced for the last time during a European Championship of the Missouri Fox Trotter in Rieden-Kreuth, Bavaria, Germany. Also here Samy placed 1st in the Speed Fox Trot. In the Model Class he became Reserve Champion, as a gelding, behind his sire GMC Black Velvet and ahead of all other participating stallions and geldings.
Because of various reasons the 2006 European Championship was cancelled; instead an alternative tournament took place at the Ruednitz Stable in Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany, with 3 judges from the US.
It was Samy’s last tournament in Europe. With Tabea Kinnemann he placed 1st in the 3-gait class of the stallions and geldings; and in the Stake class he was only defeated by his half-sister “Velvet’s Cheyenne,” rider Lothar Rowe.
Samy was a riding horse, at the same time he could also be a packed or he did show his versatility in front of a wagon. He bid farewell to Europe with a 2nd place in front of a wagon behind his sister
2007 Samy was back again in Arizona. He returned to his home country together with his sire
GMC Black Velvet.
Here in Arizona he was back in his element for trail rides under the sun of Arizona. Maybe he missed the green pastures from Germany but otherwise there was nothing much to be missed.
In 2011 Stefan Herzog showed “Samy” during a Missouri Fox Trotter tournament in Scottsdale at the West World Arena; the judge was Pat AuBuchon from Missouri. “Samy” placed 3rd, behind “Arizona’s Outlaw M.R.” with Lothar Rowe and “Legend’s Outlaw M.R.” with Shawn Sublett. All the other participants placed after these 3 horses from the Miller-Ranch. At the ranch “Samy” was irreplaceable as help during the training of young horses. “Samy” showed the offspring, that there is nothing to be afraid of: barrels, blowers, motor cycles, balloons or other obstacles at the ranch or on trails.
In Germany on a trail ride “Samy” stood composed as usual, when suddenly a military tank appeared out of the woods and he could not understand, that the other horses got all excited and panicked.
That is how “Samy” will be remembered. He left behind many friends and many wonderful memories. We shall always remember him and we have to express more than gratitude for the immense joy he has given us. Farewell Samy.