An estimated crowd of 1,000 people attended Christine Brown’s wake yesterday at her home in Versailles, KY. Christine will be laid to rest this afternoon at Pisgah Presbyterian Church in Versailles wearing the purple cross-country gear she donned so many times to compete her beloved Dutch Warmblood mare Rivella.
A lifelong equestrian and accomplished eventer in Area VIII, Christine and Rivella competed through the intermediate level before the mare sustained a career-ending injury in 2010. Just 44-years-old, Christine passed away last Wednesday when she fell while jumping her 5-year-old Shire/Hackney gelding Sammy alone at her home, severing her spinal column at the C5 vertebrae upon impact. She is survived by her husband Stuart Brown, a partner at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, with whom she shared 18 years of marriage. They celebrated their anniversary last Monday, just two days before Christine passed away.
While Christine was truly an eventer at heart, she was much more than that — a devoted animal lover who rescued countless dogs, cats and horses; a tireless volunteer to Area VIII; and a cherished wife and friend. Kathleen Sullivan, one of Christine’s dear friends, said Christine’s big heart showed in the way she constantly saved animals from abusive situations.
“Every day Christine was saving something,” Kathleen said. “Once she found a puppy tied outside in the freezing cold, shivering inside a dog house. She knocked on the front door and tried to buy it, but the owners became upset and refused. So she found a kid in the neighborhood and gave him money to go buy the dog for her. She also rescued Big Jim, a skinny draft horse she would drive by every day and see standing in a field with bad grass up to his eyeballs. That’s just who Christine was.”
In addition to dedicating her life to rescuing animals, Christine also served the local eventing community with gusto. She served as USEA Chairman of Area VIII for several years and committed much of her time to the Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association, were she sat on the Board and various committees, as well as acted as Vice President of Eventing.
While she did not have children of her own, she spent countless hours trailering aspiring young eventers in Area VIII to events, single-handedly helping them accomplish their riding dreams and goals. “There are probably 20 kids in Area VIII that owe where they are today to Christine stepping up and being like their mom,” Kathleen said. “She was one of those people who was always there when you needed her. And now no one can believe she’s gone. She must have more people who adored her than anyone else I’ve ever known.”
To honor Christine’s legacy, her friends and family are spearheading an effort to raise $10,000 to dedicate a portion of the new Dedicated Horse Path at the Kentucky Horse Park in her memory. “Her section will be marked with a special plaque, and her section will overlook part of the cross-country course,” Kathleen said. “This will benefit everyone who ever rides at Rolex in the future, as the Dedicated Horse Path will have good footing that gives the horses and riders a safe way to go between every barn and arena.”
Donations for the path can be sent in Christine’s name to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, 4089 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Click here to donate online, and please include Christine’s name in the comments section. For more information about the Dedicated Horse Path project, click here. Christine’s full obituary can be viewed here.
We asked members of the eventing community to share special memories about Christine:
Maya Studenmund: “I met Christine when she brought Rivella down to Buck Davidson’s in Ocala. We became close quickly even though she didn’t stay long. She had the most wonderful laugh, and she’d always say, ‘Maya, you crack me up.’ I can hear it now. She loved her mare so much, and I would always joke with her that she should really send her to me. I had ridden Rivella a bit for Christine when she became sick in Ocala, and I loved the mare too. When I was pregnant with the twins, I called her to tell her the news, and she said Rivella was pregnant as well. Rivella ended up having a beautiful filly named Ava, and I had named my girl Ada. We laughed a lot about us naming our girls almost the same thing. She was the most kind and generous person. She was always laughing and positive even when she was sick, when Rivella was injured and when she couldn’t compete after she drove all the way down to Florida. She was so excited about Ava; she already had her jumping ditches in hand as a weanling. She was an amazing horse woman and an amazing friend. I know I could have counted on her for anything.”
Lynda Clary-Burke: ”One special memory is meeting Christine and exclaiming how much she and her good friend Amy Wise looked alike. I’ve told them both over and over they could easily pass as sisters! Those smiles! Thank you for recognizing that Christine was important to many people, not so much for winning ribbons, though she did. Instead, Christine was happy, had countless friends who will continue to love her, lit up the room when she walked in with that amazing smile, worked hard at everything she did, and loved her husband. Ever see her eyes when she looked at Stuart? We’re all going to live differently because Christine Brown lived among and is gone, but not that smile.”
Sheri Wood: “I worked at Kentucky Equine Research for awhile as a graphic designer and met Christine through Mark Llewellyn. He had written an article or Equinews magazine about older horses and needed a photo to accompany it. Christine was so warm and friendly. Tt really showed through her interaction with her older horse in the photo we took. I always enjoyed seeing her lovely smile whenever I had to work with that image. My thoughts and prayers are with Christine’s family during this difficult time.”
Anastasia Curwood: “I only knew Christine for the last four years of her life, though I feel lucky because of it. She lived her life with gusto, intelligence and generosity of spirit, all of which became obvious upon getting to know her. She was kind to people and kinder still to animals, so it seemed that I was always hearing about her latest rescue project through our mutual friend. I will miss her, and my heart breaks for the humans, equines, canines and felines who were close to her. I wish peace to them all.”
Cassidy Reese: “I was lucky enough to stable next to Christine at several events around Area IV and VIII back in the early 2000s. Her words of encouragement and friendly smile were always present around the show grounds, and I feel lucky to have met her.”
Mary Fike: ”Wednesday we lost a vital member of the Midsouth Eventing and Dressage Association family. Christine Brown was a bright and infectiously positive person, and all who knew her called her friend. She served on the MSEDA Board for many years before stepping into the role of Vice President of Eventing. During her time with MSEDA, Christine spearheaded the development of the Hall of Distinction, chaired the Education Committee, was an active member of the Gala Celebration, developed the Silent Auction into a very special fundraiser, and devoted her energy and passion to all other MSEDA projects. It is with heavy hearts that we extend our deepest condolences to Christine’s husband, Stuart, and her family and friends. Christine will be sorely missed by all of us.”