Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Eventers Honor Seema Sonnad with a Sea of Purple

Plantation Goes Purple For Seema Sonnad

June 8, 2015
All photos by Amy K. Dragoo

The eventing community came together on the weekend of June 6 to honor Seema Sonnad, an event rider, volunteer, mentor and beloved friend to many who passed away unexpectedly on May 27. Plantation Field Horse Trials (Pa.) invited everyone at their June Horse Trials to wear her favorite color, purple, in remembrance.

Organizers, staff, volunteers and competitors alike turned out in purple, and those that didn’t picked up a ribbon from the secretary’s office to wear. Eventers across the country joined in as well, sporting purple at their competitions over the weekend even if they weren’t at Plantation.
Sonnad brought her off-the-track Thoroughbred, VS Pass Play, from the beginner novice level to preliminary in the three years she’d had him. When she wasn’t competing, Sonnad could usually be spotted with sunglasses on and clipboard in hand, ready to help in whatever way was needed. Last weekend, volunteers came out in droves, honoring Seema’s memory by taking on the tasks that she did selflessly for years.

“She was always been willing to help because she knows that’s what keeps the wheel rolling,” said Denis Glaccum, the founder of Plantation Field Equestrian Events, Inc. “She symbolized the type of person that we need to attract to and keep involved in eventing if eventing is going to survive because you cannot do it without people willing to volunteer and take on whatever job.”

Plantation organizers provided purple ribbons for riders to wear to honor Sonnad.

Cindy Gilbert volunteers at Plantation every year, but was joined by a even bigger group of people from her Harvest View Stables in Manheim, Pa., than usual.
“We loved to be able to do something to honor Seema,” said Gilbert, who had known Sonnad through her work at Plantation and at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials (Md.) as well as through their mutual trainer, Missy Ransehousen. “She was such a fixture in the eventing community and was always, if not on course, helping out at events. I thought that it was really great that this was a way that we could all show our support.”

Plantation volunteer coordinator Melissa Roddy Wright, wearing purple in honor of Sonnad.

Missy Ransehousen, who trained Sonnad, rode Sonnad’s Thoroughbred gelding VS Pass Play, or “Keegan” in the open preliminary, division A on Saturday.

“I had planned to ride him; she and I had discussed the schedule before she had passed away,” said Ransehousen. ”It’s funny, when she first asked me to ride the horse, she was like, ‘Oh, well hopefully you can knock some points off of his dressage test.’ He’s a fabulous jumper, but he’s not always the best on the flat, and this weekend I did it for her. I got a 28 in dressage, so that was really special, and when I saw that score, I was like, ‘This is for you Seema, this is for you.’”

Missy Ransehousen on VS Pass Play at Plantation, wearing purple and with purple braids to honor late owner Seema Sonnad. 

Ransehousen and a group of other riders who had been directly connected to Sonnad wore purple for all three phases while many other competitors changed into their purple attire for cross-country and show jumping. Gilbert, who volunteered as a cross-country fence judge last weekend, said that more than half of the riders that galloped past were also sporting Sonnad’s favorite color.

“Looking out into the field you saw a lot of purple, which was wonderful,” said Ransehousen. “It’s amazing how many lives Seema has touched and the following that she had with everyone dressed in purple to honor her.”


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