1974 ~ 2008
Morgan trainer Tristanne Weber Childress, 34, of Siler City, NC passed away March 17, 2008 following a short illness.
Tristanne was born and raised in Colorado, where she attended Evergreen High School before moving to Tulsa, OK to train with her Morgan horses. She attended college while beginning her career as a professional horse trainer. Horses and her husband, Ed Childress, were her passion. Prior to opening her own training facility, Silhouette Training Stables, Tristanne was trainer at Pete and Gael Jaeger’s Flintlock Morgan Farm in Chapel Hill, NC and also worked for Peggy Knight in OK.
Tristanne started riding when she was three years old and was showing Morgan horses by the age of five. As a junior exhibitor, she had horses in training with Martin Cockriel, Mary Cockriel and Bob Kellert. At age ten, she competed successfully at the Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show. She won her first Reserve World Championship at age 11 riding Vali-Hi Hickory B. She loved her horses and their owners and was diligent about their success. She had many show ring successes on the local, regional and Grand National level. Two horses she trained and showed earned three World Championships in recent years: Carmen Miranda, 2004 World Champion Hunter Pleasure and World Champion Ladies Hunter Pleasure for Michael and Jamie Jaeger Fiocco; and HVK Hard Rock, 2005 World Champion Carriage Pleasure Driving Single for Marilyn North. Tristanne also had many good wins on the regional open carriage circuit against all breeds, doing a wonderful job of promoting the Morgan breed.
The AMHA Youth Program was an instrumental part of Tristanne’s education. She contributed greatly to others throughout her involvement of developing and running youth programs including the AMHA Youth Program. She was an active member of the Virginia-Carolinas Morgan Horse Club and was the longtime youth coordinator for the club. She helped to start the Youth of the Year Contest at the Southern States Regional Show and ran this successfully for many years. She alway seemed to find a horse and outfit for a needy kid when it came to youth activities.
Tristanne is survived by her husband, Ed C. Childress; her parents, William and Sharon Weber; and her grandmother Paula Weber. A memorial service was held at Walker’s Funeral Home in Chapel Hill on March 22, 2008 followed by a celebration of Tristanne’s life at the home of Ed Childress.
The Virginia-Carolinas Morgan Horse Club is proud to sponsor a fund that has been set up to encourage Morgan youth nationwide to participate in Oklahoma City at the national Youth of the Year Competition in Tristanne’s name. The family and friends of Tristanne would appreciate donations to this worthwhile cause. All who knew her would agree that this is what she would have wanted.
Thank you to all those who have generously donated to this fund and for your heartfelt contribution towards the future of our youth. It is greatly appreciated by all.
Please send your contributions to the “TWC Youth Fund” made out to AMHA (include in Memo line: Tristanne Weber Childress Youth Fund) to:
Julie M. Broadway, Executive Director
American Morgan Horse Association
4066 Shelburne Rd., Ste. 5
Shelburne, VT 05482-6908
Below are a few memories by friends and family of Tristanne. We hope you will all continue to post your thoughts and inspirations so that Tristanne’s life will always be remembered.
Brooke and I went out to the barn today. We made sure everyone got out to enjoy the sunshine. It’s so beautiful at the barn in the spring. The grass is green from all the rain we’ve had lately (thank you, God). Local hay crop should be good this season, as long as we keep getting the rain. Maybe you can help with that now?
Lilly lost one of her high heels yesterday. She likes to kick them off and run barefoot in the grass. Brooke and I found it, right near the stream bed in the tall grass. Miraculously, Levi still has all of his shoes. He was looking for you Saturday. All the horses know something is wrong — they are missing you too, just like us!
You should be proud of Megan, Jade, Sarah and Brooke! They all took the news hard, but they all said, “Tristanne wouldn’t want us to stand around feeling sorry for her.” Pat told them they are very strong and brave; they all agreed that ‘Tristanne made us this way! When you fall off the horse, you get back on; not tomorrow, not next week, now!’
Hey, Brooke and I thought maybe you could work on some things for us, you know, be our angel? Here goes…
- Could we have pleasant, balmy weather at Southern States for the next, say, five years?
- Can the intercoms at all the barns be loud and clear so we can hear the call for our classes?
- Can you whisper to us when we need to sit up straight, move our legs back, look up, and BREATHE? This would help lots.
Tris, we didn’t get a chance to go on another road trip together. Remember Daytona in 2002? We laughed so hard. You with that little hiccup laugh that you couldn’t stop! Well, you go on ahead, start the road trip, take this time and rest; I will catch up with you later, dear friend… Love you lots…
— Jennie March 16, 2008
“Tristanne gave me so much… I’ll carry all of her love, her confidence in me, and her sweet spirit in my heart forever. She was our rock!” — Pat West
“Tris taught both myself and more importantly, Mitch (started him in the saddle), and we are forever in warm remembrance and grateful for her friendly, gentle and supportive guidance.” — Wendy Ehrlich
“You have given me the encouragement and strength to go on. I will keep my promise and become a veterinarian. You’ve taught me to take hold of my dream and not let go. I love you and miss you and will always remember you.” — Jade Tuttle
“We still find it hard to believe she is gone. Gael and I had a wonderful seven years with Tristanne. The last year was not easy for the three of us. We came to realize that our ultimate goals and philosophies were not on the same track—that was a most difficult time. And yet our memories are of a most pleasant young lady introduced to us by Dini Swanson in Detroit, Michigan at the AMHA Convention some eight and a half years ago.
We took Tristanne in as our trainer, but for all intents and purposes, she was our third daughter. We watched her mature and handle our training facility in a businesslike fashion. The clients and equines we introduced her to became fast friends who were treated with both respect and dignity. If there is a good reason for her being gone, it has not yet come to me—her parents are fine people and we both grieve for them.
The national and local association, her nationwide equine friends and especially the youth to whom she was immensely dedicated have had a true competitor and knowledgeable instructor stolen from their midst. She came to me recently after a board meeting and took me aside—she shared some things that had been on her mind—she shared for my benefit, not hers, in true unselfish Tristanne fashion! RIP Tristanne, you are certainly missed.”
—Pete and Gael Jaeger
“I am still stunned that someone so young and vibrant has passed. She was dear to me, as you know.” —Peggy Knight
“Sadly, I will be unable to attend the service. I am leaving for Spring Training Camp [Camp – Durham Bulls Baseball] in Florida today for work. Rebecca made it VERY clear that she wanted to donate to the Youth Fund on Tristanne’s behalf. Please give our best to the family. Thank you.” —Leanne & Rebecca Jones
“I loved Tristanne and am just shocked that she isn’t here with us.” —Sally Wadhams
“I am so sorry that Tristanne didn’t recover from her serious illness. Thanks for keeping us informed. Our sympathies go to her husband, Ed, and the rest of her family as well as our Morgan Horse Club—especially the children and youth members. Our prayers will continue to be with her loved ones at this difficult time. Please keep me informed of the memorial for her.” —Eleanor Aurand
“This is still such a shock to me… and I did not realize that she was that young… so very sad. I go to sleep thinking of her and wake up with her on my mind… as I could say a lot more. I always thought Tristanne was an honest and hard working young womand and was so happy to see her succeed in the show ring and in the sharing of herself and her knowledge with the youth. I always think of her as a sweetheart with a goal. This whole tragedy reminds me of the constant truth: Live every day as if it is our last. We will make a donation to the Youth Scholarship Fund in remembrance of Tristanne. I just feel so sad at our loss.” — Joyce Metters & John Coppley
“Tris, the impact you left on me in such a short time is a talent most aspire to have. You have taught me to be a better friend and a better rider and I will always cherish that. I hear you whispering in my ear with every ride. I miss you…” —Lorie
“Tristanne was the best riding instructor I had ever had. I appreciated that she approached riding from an athlete’s point of view. She would explain patiently and in as many different ways as it took for me to ‘get it’ as to what she wanted me to do, how to do it, and why it would help the horse. I can’t say enough good things about how she took our mare, Carmen Miranda, a good horse, and continued Carmen’s training and made her—arguably—a great horse. She really put the finishing touches on Carmen. I think this is where Tristanne’s equitation background served her well, for once the horse was trained, what we worked on were the little things that set you apart from the other horses in the ring; flawless transitions, turns, backing. We always prayed for a judge who would give us a difficult workout on the rail. I could watch her ride Carmen for hours on end, it was like watching an ice skater it was so smooth and fluid. She really cared for the horses, they were members of her family. She was generous with her expertise and with her time with Carmen and I. We’ll miss her.” —Jamie Jaeger Fiocco
“I was devastated to hear of the tragic loss of Tristanne. What a horrible thing. It doesn’t seem possible… My heart goes out to her family and you and yours. Her loss is a terrible hurt. Please accept my deepest sympathy.” —Cindy Mugnier
“Thank you so much for your attentiveness and care in keeping all of us informed during this difficult time. We send our prayers to you, the Morgan community, and most of all, the Childress family.” —Jennifer Sims
“I won’t be able to attend the Memorial, so could you remember me to her parents and to Ed, my thoughts to bring some comfort and solace to ease their pain right now. She grew up with all of us! She used to hang out at Page’s stalls at the shows and would confide in me about her wishes for her own place, and she just liked to sit around and talk and talk! She WILL be missed by us all.” —Linda Champion
“I am so very sorry to read about Tristanne’s death. It is easy to remember all the good she did for us Hewitts, because there is so much of it. A few examples come easily to mind: She gave Max the courage to canter and be a horse under saddle once again after his recovery from the effects of PSSM. Max will always hold a special place in my heart and I believe that Tristanne was instrumental in making sure he continued his recovery and allowed him to cement a successful career. Max’s current owner also loves and appreciates him. Because of Tristanne’s advice and guidance, Amanda has the beautiful and talented Laddie for her personal horse, one she considers her perfect horse. Tristanne’s expertise, guidance and friendship made possible my ownership of Joe—another lovable and talented horse—and with whom I have many nice show wins and pleasure rides. Tristanne was instrumental in Meghan’s further enjoyment of her beloved Sam. She taught Meghan to ride with ‘baby birds’ in her hands to keep Sam happily and confidently paying attention. The Australian Cattle Dog, Radiance Wiley Blue Stitch, also has to be counted among all the good things. Tristanne’s encouragement for, and delight in, his becoming a Hewitt, is priceless…without her we would never have him. My heart is heavy for the great loss her husband, family and close friends have suffered.” —Barb, Amanda, Meghan, Mike and John Hewitt