M a r y S a n d S t u d i o

Farewell my friend Ami

Beautiful profile of Ami Ami, soon after I bought him.

In 1992, just one week before my father Thor Sand passed away from cancer, I came across this beautiful black 18 hand Hanoverian gelding named "Ami", translated in French it is friend. This friend was clearly what I needed at that point in time, with the devastating loss of my father the following week.

During my youth, it was my father who was supportive of my love for horses since I was 4 and while growing up in Darmstadt Germany, he religiously took me for lessons at the Darmstadt Reiter Verein. There I had a favorite school horse called Winkleried, also an enormous black warmblood. One look at Ami, and it was love at first sight. I knew this was going to be my horse.

Ami's beautiful eye  
Ursula von der Leyen riding Ami for the first time.          

It soon became clear that although it may have been fate that brought us together, he was a bit of a handful and I was in need of some help.

I had heard of a woman, Ursula von der Leyen, who had ridden the auction horses at the Hanoverian Verband and made a call to see if she would be willing to help me with Ami.

This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and riding partner. Rose was exceptionally generous with her time and with 5 children at home back then, she still found time to work with us.

I met Kathy van Camp through Rose and the three of us, with Rose's twins in tow, traveled to Lower Saxony to search for a horse for Kathy. Reinhard Baumgart had Goethe, who at 3 was started by Hannes Baumgart and was so beautifully balanced with a wonderful temperament.

Ursula von der Leyen and Kathy van Camp with Goethe    
Ami at 6 years old, ridden by Ursula von der Leyen for the first time.
Ami's pink papers              
    Celle state stud, retirement ceremony for Manfred Lopp
Since I was a child, it had always been a dream of mine to visit the Lower Saxony State Stud of Celle. During our search for a horse for Kathy, Rose took us to Celle so I was able to see Dynamo, Ami's Dams' sire. Afrikaner was no longer there but we had the honor of attending a retirement ceramony at Celle for the Hauptsattelmeister. 
Ami ridden by Ursula von der Leyen at Stanford Equestrian Center

It was decided early on, that Rose would show Ami and I would keep him going in between. Show nerves always got the best of me, but I found tremendous satisfaction in the progress that we were able to make without the formality of showing.

Charming the judges

Ami had a way of charming the judges... On several occasions, at the end of a dressage test when the rider halts, salutes at X., he would whinny and this would bring laughter from the judges and audience.

<- Ursula showing Ami at the Stanford Equestrian Center

Ami at 15 years old
Ami and Mary at Webb Ranch
Ami at 16 at the farm of Lydia Williams, before moving to Bucks County PA in 2002
Mary and Ami at a dressage show in Portola Valley California.    
Ami at home in Pennsylvania with his favorite  companion Lightning        

As an artist, I was extremely fortunate to have Lydia Williams, my dearest friend, fellow rider with a great appreciation for art, as an enthusiastic patron and stanch supporter of my  work throughout my sculpture career.  Mrs. Williams commissioned sculptures of her horses and bought several limited edition sculptures based on the clay maquettes, making it possible for me to cope with the initial, exorbitant cost of moldmaking/casting in bronze.

Ami and Lightning at home in Bucks County
Janine Klein and Shebang, a Hanoverian that she bought from Reinhard Baumgart
Ami paved the way for the development of many of my deepest friendships, one being Janine Klein, who became the sister I never had. Turns out she bought her horse 'Shebang' from Reinhard Baumgart, the same breeder that we got Goethe from. What a small world it is. Janine and I rode together and she looked after Ami when I traveled on business. After she moved to Bucks County Pa., in the late 90's, using her marketing savvy, she talked me into moving there. It was a life-altering move as I was able realize my dream of buying a small farm so that I could have have Ami at home and pursue my sculpture business full-time.
Ami and his companion Lightning

Ami's companion pony Lightning was adopted from "Last Chance Ranch", an equine rescue outside Quakertown Pennsylvania. I adopted him when he was 2 years old and had just been gelded. He was and still is the dominant "horse" here at my farm, and is now asserting himself with Machu Picchu. It took about 6 months before he stopped attempting to bite everyone and everything that walked through his paddock but as you can see, he and Ami had become inseperable.

It is with deep sadness that I say farewell to my old friend Ami. After several years of managing the pain from arthritis and after he encountered side-effects from Cushings disease, I made the agonizing decision that he shouldn't suffer through the stress of another winter.

Fall, 2009


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