We join the equestrian community around the world in mourning the sudden deaths of Sophie Walker and Andres Rodriguez, who were killed in a car accident in the early morning hours of January 4th, 2016.
We didn’t know Sophie well, but from the messages pouring forth from her many friends and family, it is clear that she was a talented equestrian and deeply loved woman who lived a beautiful life. As a junior rider, she trained with top equitation trainers Missy Clark and Kathy Fletcher, riding the unparalleled Grappa. And under her maiden name of Coppedge, she won the New England Equitation Championships in 2001.
In a different arena, it was an honor to watch the career of Andres Rodriguez develop and thrive. He wore his passion for the sport where everyone could see it in his ever present, wide smile. It was clear that he appreciated every moment he spent following his dream, and as he rocketed to international stardom during the 2015 season, we shared his excitement and smiled with him.
On August 1st we sat together in a half-empty grandstand at Jumping Dinard in France to talk about what had been his highest career point to date – Individual Silver at the Pan American Games two weeks prior. Andres remembered how, when he was 17 years old and still living at home in Venezuela, his father told him that if he was going to take the sport seriously he must work with the best, and how that advice led him to Europe and to the mentorship of Rodrigo Pessoa, Doda Miranda, and later, Eddie Macken. He said that all the time he would wonder –still– if he was good enough, if he could ride at the top level, even as he proved to us all that he was, and he could.
Losing two members of our community in this way is a cruel reminder that while life is not infinite, the decisions we make at times are. Andres and Sophie will be remembered always, as it is impossible to forget those who give us so much to remember.