HUNTER CHASE: A Woman Who Made Her Presence Known
Sue Smithson is one of the most down-to-earth, forthright people I've ever had the pleasure to know.
She doesn't pull punches, and she doesn't suffer fools silently, or else she wouldn't have been so vocal with her criticisms of my editing skills. Despite our occasionally heated discussions about what belonged where and why, I believe that Sue and I are friends.
And that is what makes me sad to see her relinquish the reins of Hoofbeats.
She was an advocate for all things horse-related in this county. When I say advocate, I don't mean that she necessarily agreed with the direction that things in Horse Country always traveled, but she was willing to be involved. She did it in a very public way on these pages for 17 years.
Here's a quick little anecdote about Sue: Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I came to love the odors of a farm. In Sue's case, I smelled that earthy fragrance on her before I ever saw her.
I hope Sue will take this in the right way, but on the day I met her I was working at The Pilot's office when I noticed this distinct odor closing in on me. It was Sue, wearing her ever-present visor, and she was dressed as if she had just come from the barn.
And I found that her humor, most often displayed in her columns, could be equally "spicy."
Many times that was where we butted heads: Several of her columns, although hilarious, weren't allowed to see the light of day in The Pilot because of the subject matter.
Again, though there might have been disagreements, I don't think any of them ever evolved into a personal battle.
In fact, I know they didn't. Sue would tell it like it was, or like she thought it was, and then shortly thereafter let it go.
She might call me a "weenie" or someone lacking certain anatomical parts, but it all ended up good in the long run.
Her sense of humor could border on the risqu, but she is a funny person, and truly funny people always walk a tightrope based on their audience.
But she took horses, horse people and, most important, Horse Country very seriously.
The Pilot also takes the coverage of all things related to horses seriously, and the section tabbed Hoofbeats will continue to be an integral part of the paper.
We are in the process of finding a replacement for Sue. There may be someone who can replace her on the page, but believe me, no one can ever replace Sue the individual.
Sue, you may become an old codger (or curmudgeon to use your description of yourself in last week's farewell column), but I don't think you'll stop being young at heart.
Happy riding, Sue, and happy retirement. I hope you continue to drop by the old Pilot corral once in a while because I'll be missing you.
And I don't mind if I smell you coming first because a visit from a person as unique as you has always been a breath of fresh air.
Hunter Chase can be reached at email@example.com
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