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In Memoriam: Shannon Leigh Stepp


By Pam Gamble

Shannon Leigh Stepp was a person whowas well know in the Memphis area horse world. Her father James was one of the driving forces behind Sunset Hills Saddle Club, and Shannon was an active member there for 35 years. Lately she had stepped into her father's shoes to become a leader.

Shannon was an active member of the Southern Amateur Saddle Club Association (SASCA)representing Sunset Hills.  In those days the SASCA organization was huge and the weekly shows brought hundreds of participants,lastinguntil the weehours of the morning.

Shannon's first mount was her pony Black Beauty.The love ofa child for her first pony cemented a constant that would remain throughouther life.

Her next mount was T.J., a walking horse that she showed in the flatshod saddle horse divisions. Shannon and T.J. received the highpoint award in this division many times.

Her next mount was another walking horse, Flashlight, whom she showed in the padded saddle horse divisions in SASCA.  Flashlight also won Shannon many HighPoint Championships in their division. Flashlight's quirky personality suited Shannon's. As you put him into the crosstieshe would only turn one way – not the way that most right handed people turned. He would not turn right to left, but only left to right.  Shannon just laughed at him when he did this.

T.J. And Flashlight are both alive and well with Shannon's good care.  T.J. is 33 and Flashlight is 14.  Shannon also gave a home to a retired Memphis Mounted Patrol horse, also a Walking Horse. “A good man will take care of his horses and dogs, not only while they are young, but also when they are old and past service.”-Plutarch

In the past five years, Shannon was able to realize a deam, as she began showing the Walking Horse Association circuit under the guidance of Abernathy Stables in Byhalia, MS. Although she had several young horses over the last few years, her current horse, Sheza Gamer, a three-year-old, won several blue ribbons.  Abernathy Stables trainer Edgar Abernathy said that this was the best horse that Shannon had ever owned.

Shannon Leigh Stepp died at the age of forty-three at her home in Olive Branch, Mississippion June 27.  Memorialsmay be sent to the Susan G. Komen Foundation or the American Heart Association.

 She will be missed by her brother James A. Stepp, Jr and her companion, Phillip Broadway, along with her extended family and her horse family.  Her passing was much too early, but as they say, “it was her time.”

Many people wonder if there is a place for animals in heaven.  Did Shannon meet Black Beauty again?  “My horse has gone ahead now, To blaze a trail for us; To find out every rocky place, Or one where we can’t pass; He'll seek the finest grassland, And water fresh and pure; To make sure when we travel on, Our path beyond is clear; He’s never let me down before, I know now and I see; He’ll blaze our trail to heaven, And come back one day for me.”(quote from Kate Howe, 2004, California Rancher)

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