It was perhaps 2003 or 2004 when I accompanied Axel to a clinic in which Leslie Morse was riding Kingston. We’d been watching the wonderful bay stallion at shows for a year or two already, and Axel was looking forward to working with him. Leslie warmed up Kingston, took a short walk break, and then in the center of the arena asked for piaffe…. A splendid, splendid piaffe, sitting, rhythmic, with great lift and carry and pure joy of movement and strength.
“That was a 10,” Axel said without fanfare. But I could see how pleased he was to be standing in the ring with a horse that could do that.
I always looked forward to photographing Kingston. He was a “manly” horse, built in an exquisite shape that made taking pictures of him a joy, with a head and neck that the camera loved. And he had a joie de vivre that shined through when he was working or when he was just hacking around the showgrounds with Leslie: he’d walk around smiling at the day, ears up, secure in his own skin. Oh, he had his moments of non-Zen, often at the vet inspection … in the early years we’d all make sure we had space to step back when Kingston was presented.
It was his “Pirates” freestyle that I’ll remember him by. If ever a horse was made for a musical score, Kingston was born to perform to “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It’s big, powerful, driving music, and it fit perfectly this big, powerful, driving horse. They took it to the World Cup in Las Vegas in 2005, and they brought the house down. By now that music has been misused to death, usually by little girls on delicate ponies, but in my opinion, if your horse isn’t Kingston, don’t use that music…. because it took a Kingston to carry that beat.
Rest in peace, dear boy. May you be dancing to your music, and may there be lots of sexy mares, wherever you are.