Mrs. Dianne Cotter

We received news today of the passing of Mrs. Dianne Cotter who, along with her husband Julian, bred and campaigned 2011 Wood Memorial-G1 winner Toby’s Corner. The Cotters also bred Toby’s sire, multiple graded stakes winner Bellamy Road. Dianne’s granddaughter, top three-day event rider Hillary Irwin, posted this lovely tribute on social media today:

“We have lost a legend of a lady. She built a life that started by surviving both Polio in her throat and Hepatitis when she was under the age of nine in the working suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She earned herself a scholarship to Johns Hopkins where she would meet the love of her life, Julian. From there she washed clothes in the bathtub, used condensed milk to make eggnog at Christmas, had her first baby sleep in a drawer, and together, over many years, she and my grandfather built a life everyone could admire and aspire to emulate. She, my grandfather, and Rod put in every post on this farm. Foaled out every mare. Cut every blade of grass, made every trail, and welcomed strangers. I will miss her at every bright sunset and every time I smell burned bacon. I will miss her helping me hold myself together when I am not sure how to put one foot in front of the other, and telling me it could be so much worse and that I will, in fact, be just fine (when she was sure I did still in fact have a pulse). She gave me my absolute stubborn ability to refuse anything other than the best, fierce loyalty almost to a fault, protective nature, and work ethic. She believed in me more than I might ever be able to believe in myself, and I will terribly miss telling her stories of the horses she bred that gave me the ability to dream. She kept me awake driving home from teaching at 930 at night when I’d been awake since 5am doing the same thing. She followed me around the country, and to other countries, to share my life. They broke the mold when they made her. We will all have a hole in our hearts for a long time, but will have been shaped by her wit, humor, grit, and love. She loved her manhattans, and had one very evening. She made cookies every Christmas, and cakes for every birthday. She could bleach a barn like nobodies business, and manhandle a weanling until she was about 81 (baby hap, I’m looking at you). She taught me to only buy the refrigerated pasta, ration the candy (and always have it in the bottom drawer), stand up for myself (will try to be better at that), take care of those around you, move your couch when you vacuum, suck it the hell up, move on, and don’t be afraid to take on the big guy, because as they showed us winning the Wood Memorial twice, big guys can be taken down by the small guy with a lot of hard work, surrounding yourself with wonderful people, and little bit of luck. I asked her to give Doby a kiss for me, a mint, and told her to go for a hack, even though she hadn’t ridden in years…. I think they’d both enjoy that. I will miss her beyond words, and consider myself immeasurably lucky to have had her as my grandmother.”

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