Patrick Swayze’s horse was at his memorial w/ boots backwards in the stirrups

A private memorial was held for beloved actor Patrick Swayze on Sunday. Swayze passed last month at the age of 57 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. The details of the memorial are touching. Patrick, who lived out some of his final months at the ranch he shared in New Mexico with his wife of 31 years, Lisa Neimi, was an avid horseman and bred Arabian horses. One of his horses, a white stallion, was at the memorial with Patrick’s boots placed backwards in the stirrups. People Magazine calls this “an old horseman tradition,” and it’s something I’ve never heard of before. Different reports on indicate that the tradition of using riderless horses at a funeral dates back to Roman times and is sometimes included in services for fallen soldiers and heads of state. The horse of the deceased often follows the casket, although in Patrick’s case the body was cremated so the horse was just there as a silent reminder of his owner.

Swayze’s memorial also included a dance tribute planned by his widow and performed by professional dancers. There was also a video memorial and speeches by his loved ones. In a way I’m glad that the memorial was private as it was for his family and friends and shouldn’t have been turned into a spectacle. On the other hand it sounds incredible and I would have liked to have seen it. Just reading about it makes me tear up:

Guests arriving for Patrick Swayze’s private memorial on Sunday were greeted by a lone white horse, which was owned and beloved by the late actor whose boots were facing backwards in the stirrups.

“It’s an old horseman tradition,” a source tells PEOPLE of the gesture.

Held on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, Calif., the service – attended by several hundred friends and family, including Whoopi Goldberg – incorporated many photos of Swayze riding his horses, along with a video tribute to the star, who died from pancreatic cancer on Sept. 14.

The memorial, planned by the actor’s wife Lisa Niemi, featured speeches celebrating Swayze’s life and a performance by professional dancers in honor of his talent.

“A whole dance floor was built,” says another source. “The dancers did these amazing numbers.”

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to The Patrick Swayze Pancreas Cancer Research Fund or Stand Up to Cancer.

[From People]

A couple of weeks ago I rewatched Dirty Dancing in honor of Patrick. I had forgotten what a great movie it was. There was something so vulnerable yet masculine about Patrick. He struck me as a rare type of actor who is able to play the sensitive male lead without a hint of artifice. He just seemed like a great guy.

Patrick’s personal life was much more troubled than we might assume. His autobiography, co-written with his wife Lisa Neimi, came out last week. Lisa and Patrick revealed that they lived separate lives for about a year, in 2003, when she rented an apartment about 20 minutes from their home. Patrick was in the throes of alcoholism at the time. He is said to have turned to drinking after his father’s death in 1982 and the suicide of his sister in 1994. Prior to Patrick’s cancer diagnosis, he had been reunited with Lisa for about four years, and the past two years they had together they were closer than ever. RIP Patrick, you will be missed by so many.

Tragic Patrick Swayze died earlier today after a long battle with cancer, he was 57

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9 Responses to “Patrick Swayze’s horse was at his memorial w/ boots backwards in the stirrups”

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  1. Anna says:

    So sweet!

    Actually, this is a tradition often used for leaders (military, political, etc). It symbolizes the dead leader looking back upon his troops or people. At JFK’s funeral, there was a riderless horse with boots, turned around, in the stirrups.

  2. Carol says:

    President Kennedy’s funeral included a riderless horse with backward boots in the procession. Mrs. Kennedy based her husband’s funeral on President Lincoln’s funeral, which I believe contained the same symbol. It is quite powerful to see. RIP Patrick.

  3. Diane says:

    Touching tribute to him. He loved his wife, ranch, dancing, acting, full life, not long enough for him.

  4. Shelly says:

    I still can’t believe he’s gone. he was my favorite actor of all time and he and Lisa down seemed so down to earth. I hope she’s coping as well and she can and feels Patrick’s spirit with her daily. I’m glad they had the horse tribute like that.

  5. Ana says:

    My mom is obsessed with Dirty Dancing. Everytime it comes on she has to watch it. Even though she has it recorded on the DVR so she can watch it any time she wants.

  6. Brandi says:

    I recently watched Ghost and teared up at the title menu. I really can’t beleive he’s gone. I hope everyone keeps his family in their prayers.

  7. Stephie says:

    I liked him as an actor. Sad to see a good one go. Terrible to see the photos of him close to his passing, he didn’t look anything like himself. I’m glad his memorial was private too, even if I would have liked to have seen it. It’s better when it’s just for family.

  8. paranel says:

    very sad ending to the life of a very good man.

  9. Judy says:

    I think these two led a real life, not a hollywood life and in the biography they were brutally honest. The had their problems but still loved one another and she loved him enough toleave him to make him understand that she was not going to watch him drink himself to death. I feel for her and know she misses him and hope she heals and always has great memories of him.