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John Lyon's Bright Zip
John Lyon's Zip photo copyright Charles Hilton Equine Photography.

Job 39:19 Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

I discovered John Lyons in 1988 when he came to Santa Barbara's Earl Warren Show Ground to give one of his early Symposiums. The event was poorly attended because John Lyons was not well known enough to draw the large crowds yet. My wife went to keep a friend company and was incredibly impressed. John Lyons was something new and unique and he had a couple very smart horses. The flashy Appaloosa was called Zip. I can still hear him calling in mock sternness "Zip get over here" and Zip quick trotting over to John to be used in the lesson being demonstrated. Zip was on his own path to celebrity and would become one of the most famous horses of all time.

  In 1989 our 2-year-old Morgan mare Splendor was the demo horse at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds. She gave John plenty to work with (One in Ten Article) and Zip was working as hard as John that day teaching everyone in attendance the true meaning of the word "partnership". 
Seeing what Zip could do gave everyone watching John's "new" training methods all the evidence required for many thousands to believe in a gentler way of horse training. 

John riding Bright Zip
"Zip, is my only horse, and I've learned one horse is a great number to have," John said in a 1996 Appaloosa Journal interview. "My relationship with him is as close to father-son as it can be . It's a relationship that goes beyond just horse and rider. It's a bond of dependence. When I've needed an extra-special tool, he's been that tool. When I've needed a special friend, he was that friend."



Images of John Lyons and Zip © Charles Hilton Photography

 The major contribution of  John's horse Bright Zip was his willingness to trust and to try in front of many of us hardheaded horse owners. Zip was a living example of John's training methods and horses everywhere are better off. Losing Zip feels to many of us like losing a close family friend, it feels like a personal loss and I know many who watched and maybe petted Zip's nose or neck feel this way. 

I would like to thank  Charles Hilton, a good friend to the horse and clearly the best equine photographer currently working, for the images used here. I would like to share something from him regarding Zip and the day these images were taken.

I am sending several photos of John and Zip that I took this last May.
Zip looked better than I have seen him in a number of years that evening. It was a special time for me as a photographer to be able to photograph such a wonderful horse not just this time but the many times I have been able to do so.
Take care and God bless, Charles

Carole Landreville’s email seems to sum up how we feel:

 Thank-you so much for Posting about Zip--
It took me back to last yr. when I had to put my little girl (Mare) of 38 to run in grass to her belly and get a hug from God---
Tears still flow---Other than a child or other loved one nothing can break a heart more that the loss of your patient/ unconditionally loving friend--Friend is the least of the words to use-as a constant companion and willing partner I am sure Johns heart is broken--as is mine---
I sent him my tears to try to help him through this difficult time----
There will always be a piece of his heart missing as with all of us--but perhaps it will be fulfilled somewhat with Gods love--
Thanks for the posting, Carole Landreville

Zip was 28 years old.
Our Warm Feelings and  Prayers go out to the entire John Lyons Family. Bob Pruitt

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