In Memory of Aimee Witherspoon: Friend and Adventurer

Photo courtesy of Maggie Rickard.

Area VII and the eventing community at large tragically lost a beloved member last week. Dr. Aimee Witherspoon, 64, fell from her horse last Thursday and sustained an irrecoverable brain injury despite wearing a helmet. She passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 8th with her four children by her side.

Aimee grew up riding and had been a lifelong lover of animals. She graduated from Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and later became certified in both acupuncture and chiropractic therapy. A career change from Veterinarian to Veterinary Acupuncturist allowed Aimee to further pursue riding and to take up eventing.

A diligent student of the sport, Aimee competed in her first Intermediate at the age of 59. After waiting years for the right horse to come along, Aimee and Worth the Wait progressed together from Novice up through Intermediate in a matter of four years. “Marshmallow” was retired from upper-level competition sound at the age of 15 and Aimee had previously shared his story.

Good friend and fellow Adult Amateur, Lou Leslie, describes Aimee as “the ultimate plan maker” who was “fiercely independent, fiercely smart and fiercely adventuresome.” The two enjoyed countless hours planning, riding, and competing together — most recently at the Fall Spokane Sport Horse Farm H.T. the last weekend of September.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Rickard.

“The sudden shock of Aimee leaving comes with the notion that accidents happen when things don’t happen as planned,” writes Lou. “Aimee had an accident riding the plans.”

“It was no accident that Aimee was a great friend. Our first shared timed together was planning an adventure to Californian horse trial. We spent more than 50 hours sharing the ride, overanalyzing all aspects of eventing, family and life. Some of our many conclusions: How incredibility fortunate to have amazing people as our children. How fortunate we are to have the ability to enjoy eventing. How fortunate we are to live this adventure. Our biggest conclusion being, that’s all well and good, but let’s get back to planning the next adventure, creating the opportunities to learn more and to get better.”

“It was no accident that Aimee’s last event of the season was successfully planned. Our fiercely independent, intelligent and adventuresome Aimee achieved the eventing goal with her horse, as to plan. And once again, we shared hours of talking family, friends and eventing.”

Area VII Adult Rider Coordinator, Maggie Rickard, shared: “Aimee was my friend, my hero and my inspiration. Horse shows and camp will never be the same. I will try to honor her spirit and continue to strive to be a better rider and horsewoman as she always did.”

Aimee was a familiar face to many, having organized the Area VII Adult Camp for several years, and she was a treasured friend that will be sorely missed.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Rickard.

Madison Langerak, an Area VII Young Rider who knew Aimee well has kindly allowed us to share her tribute:


Not only were you taken too soon, but there were far too many things I didn’t have the time to tell you. Here are a few things I loved about knowing you:

I loved that, with you in my life, I had a 64-year-old best friend. How many 19-year-olds are so lucky?

I loved how you would stop everything to help someone in need, no matter how much time it took.

I loved how, when you came into town, it never failed that our animals would get a new diet plan, and I would be taken on new adventures.

I loved that you would go to watch clinics with the best of our sport, then come back to me and tell me everything you learned.

I loved your independent, maybe slightly stubborn nature, because all of us need a bit more of that in ourselves.

I loved when you offered me advice, ranging from where to go to school all the way to what I should do with my life. It was all heard and appreciated.

I loved how you always said you wished to live life like your dog Tucker, able to find joy in the smallest of things, but boy, oh boy, Aimee — didn’t you?

But most importantly, I loved the way you called me your ‘grasshopper’ because there is nothing more I could want from life than to grow up and be half the woman you were.

–Madison Langerak

A memorial service for Aimee will be held on October 21st. Further details will be posted on the Area VII Adult Riders Facebook page.