One of the most awesome people in this world has died. Mike Trader, our horse trainer. He died suddenly from a heart attack.
He was more than our horse trainer. He was our friend. He made us his friends, not his clients, by his embracing personality, welcoming us with his warmth and personality, willing to offer a beer or a hug or a conversation just as much as a ride and instruction.
He was a talker! HUGE talker! You could hardly get him to stop long enough for you to leave, and it is almost impossible to imagine that he is not still talking. He was so much fun to be around.
He taught me to ride when I couldn’t even put a halter on a horse, when I was scared of horses. He taught Morgan to ride again after Patriot bucked her.
He taught me everything I know about horses, and he tried to teach me so much more than I could absorb.
He helped me overcome my fears and become a horse owner. I can’t imagine having taken on horses without his guidance and his mentorship and his friendship. When we had to make the hardest decision of all about Patriot, he was the one we turned to.
He loved people as much as he loved horses, and his advice came from the heart he had for both.
Mike, shooting off Zip’s back when she was at his farm. (Real bullets are not involved in this type of exercise. It’s intended as a test/demonstration of a horse’s training under saddle.)
I was so lucky to get to see Mike a few weeks ago when I was in his neighborhood to see the knives I was getting for the boys. I got to hug him one last time and see the new horse he was excited about. How he loved Rocky Mountain horses.
He was only 52. I know he’s left a big hole in the world for his wife and his children–and it’s a testament to what a great man he was that he will leave a hole for a lot of other people, too. He was so good with people, especially children and teens. Morgan just adored him. She was in tears last night. Me, too. We’ll miss you, Mike.