Remembering Carol Harris with Lynn Palm
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Carol Harris, March 26, 1923 - August 7, 2021 - A native of West Orange, New Jersey, Carol owned Standardbreds, Hackney ponies, Arabians, Saddlebreds, and Tennessee Walking horses before turning to Quarter Horses in the 1950s. Eventually, Carol bought a former Thoroughbred training and breeding facility in Reddick, Florida, and developed it into the iconic Bo-Bett Farm. She raised several well-known horses, including those out of her Poco Bueno mare, Judy Dell, such as AQHA stallions Eternal Dell and Majestic Dell, both of whom stood at Bo-Bett Farms.
But it was Rugged Lark who together with her long-time protege Lynn Palm, that Carol, Lynn, and Lark became a worldwide sensation. Harris bought the stallion Rugged Lark as a yearling, and teamed up with trainer Lynn Palm to turn the stallion into a multiple Congress and AQHA world champion and two-time AQHA Superhorse that became a superstar among young and old. AQHA awarded Rugged Lark with its Silver Spur Award and inducted the stallion into the AQHA Hall of Fame in 2006.
HorsesDaily reached out to Lynn to ask her to share her memories and showcase her tribute to her longtime "soul-mate".
Where do I begin? I met Carol, though Allison and Wendy, her daughters, my schoolmates at Golden Hills Academy in 1970. Allison and I being the same age became very good friends. It was a dream come true to meet her mother, Carol, and go to her farm. I was a young girl who wanted to be a horse trainer and Carol had the most beautiful farm and amazing Quarter Horses that I have ever seen.
Carol tested me with a difficult horse, Rugged Cash, by Really Rugged. She told me that he was not easy and could “put me on the ground” as he was so athletic and sensitive. Well, after my second week, he “put me on the ground”. I worked through his issues and grew to understand him and soon he trusted me. I was very successful in the show ring with him, and Carol was impressed. This started our 45-year relationship!
Of course, my boyfriend, Rugged Lark, was one of many horses that I trained over the years. She trusted me to have Lark 16 years to learn from, enjoy, and have fun competing. Both he and Carol made me a better rider! Carol allowed me to “take my time” training her horses, and this is what I learned growing up in the Dressage saddle. This was the basis for my success with her horses. I learned from her that consulting with a client and being honest about the horse in training was the only way to keep a lasting relationship. I will never forget I would call her and tell her that Lark would retain his lessons like no other horse that I ever had, so if I had problems, she would always say, “Lynn, just do nothing about it. Turn him out, graze him, groom him, go on a trail ride and just spend time and NO training”. Guess what, Lark would always come back and do what I wanted to accomplish.
Later on, when Rugged Lark won the AQHA Super Horse at the AQHA World Show for the second time, she asked me, Lynn, what can we do differently for the awards presentation? I said to Carol, how about I ride him in the arena without a bridle? She said to me, you would do that? I said YES, as I played at home with him a few times and did not tell her. When I did, it bought the house down, and yes, then there was an audience in the stands! That started the next decade of musical freestyle exhibitions with Lark, showing the world the greatness of the American Quarter Horse and the results of training with dressage principles.
There were even men getting emotional as Lark performed, and it was so fun to be a team with Carol in these years. We went from cocktail parties with Lark then to the Arena at the most prestigious events/competitions in the USA. One of my favorites was the first World Cup where Princess Ann wanted to see this horse that everyone was talking about, as our musical exhibition was in the Tampa Buccaneers Football stadium.
Lark stood bridleless and riderless on the 50-yard line as I gave my bridle to Carol on the side line. Lark was a statue and stood there with amazing trust and obedience! Another time of so many was a cocktail party raising money for the USEF Olympic Riders and Teams. He went in his tux and in the white formal tents as Wellington high society equine lovers, watched him drinking champagne from his trophy. We had so much fun the 10 years we did the exhibitions and at every prestigious equine event in the US. Carol would not let Lark fly out of the country, but his invitations were numerous. He was America’s Super Horse!
I wish I could put a number to the horses I trained for Carol. I must thank her for her trust in me and knowing that we both always put the horse first. We had a great journey together and I will always be grateful and humbled for the opportunities, knowledge, and confidence that she gave me. When Rugged Lark passed, of course, I really had a hard time accepting it, as it was not expected. Lark had never been sick a day in his life and only one lameness as a 2 yr. old, with a stone bruise. Amazing Lark, how could he leave us? As Carol told me, just think of all the great times, memories, and all the great things that happened with him, not to be sorry of the loss. I am doing that with you Carol, thank you for being you and such an amazing horsewoman. What I learned from you, I will always appreciate and honor. I will always think of the amazing memories that we made together!"
Lynn Palm - Palm Equestrian Academy
Carol Harris became one of the first women to be named an AQHA judge and officiated at horse shows for 25 years. She was also an approved judge with the National Reining Horse Association, the National Cutting Horse Association, and the American Horse Shows Association. She was known for her strong convictions that earned respect from the horse industry the world over.
Carol was the first president of the New Jersey Quarter Horse Association and helped create the East Coast Cutting Horse Association. After moving to Florida, she was also a past president of the Florida Quarter Horse Association.
Carol was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 1997.