Janet Lane in 2021 remembers her friend, Richard Crispin, the DNA go-to for Walers and brumbies in the early days. Image: Richard riding his Waler gelding Snowy Royston.
Vale Richard Crispin. Gone far too soon. Richard was a man of many extraordinary talents yet was incredibly humble. A truly loyal mate, and you wouldn’t find a better natured person; always positive, always helpful.
Richard trained to be a RAAF pilot and became a pilot of the Roulettes. Later, he was a commercial airline pilot on international flights, until retirement. Richard lived at Jindabyne when I first met him about 15 or more years ago, he had a farm there.
We met through a mutual interest in Walers, not in person but in umpteen emails and phone calls. Peter Fischer of WHOBAA Inc. had also been a pilot, he and Richard hit it off immediately, Peter called him Biggles.
Once Richard got a passion for something he ran with it. Soon he was buying Walers, including a stallion, his beloved Snowy Ryrie.
He rode Ryrie all about and got him out and about, showing the beautiful Waler temperament. Richard knew no fear, he may not have been around horses before but his cheerful kindly manner meant horses melted for him and did anything he wanted. He just jumped in and did it. He was always learning and when he took something on, he learned about it thoroughly. They were in the best hands. Richard was soon riding in the high country with his mates, in the Snowies he loved. He bred several outstanding Walers.
A vital project he took on was collecting Waler DNA, enough to get a breed profile, and he became our main man for sending DNA to Dr. Gus Cothran and Dr. Rytis Juras in Texas for testing. He expanded this to collecting brumby DNA too, part of the Global Equine Genome Project – and he didn’t stop there – he also collected Timor Pony DNA – and yes, through Reg Wilson who saved some on the Top End, he got a little Timor Pony stallion, Xanthos (Peter and Pat Fischer got another, Balios). It may have been unbroken but in no time Richard had him out and about showing people what top ponies they are, and trained him as a pack pony. He made a trip over to Timor Island to see Timors there and collect more DNA.
Richard did a huge amount to publicise the plight of the Snowy brumbies, wanting a sustainable population kept on their country, as all sensible people do. He did an untold amount of work for the Waler and the Timor. He went to shows, festivals, you name it, and loved his ANZAC Day outings with the horses, always with respect, boots reversed, leading his horse and with a sheaf of hay for the departed horses, as was done after WW1.
He even got a giant Suffolk Punch gelding, Nash, as they too are a rare breed, and got Nash out to events to help that breed too. Never harnessed a horse, or ploughed? Nothing stopped Richard Crispin. He always asked the right people, he always learning, he was never a know all. He always jumped in and had a go. He was instrumental in getting Walers over to NZ, the first export in modern times. He was always very loyal to WHOBAA Inc. and never said a bad word about a soul. In more recent years Richard moved to Beechworth and farmed there. He was very happy there too.
He loved his children Lucy and Jack, proud as punch of them, and talked of them often. He would never have left them if he had a choice. Our deepest sympathies to them, and all his friends and family.
Richard arranged a Snowy Festival a few years back at Dalgety and I went over there, the first time we’d met in person other than countless emails (right up until his death) and phone calls over the years. Top bloke. Absolutely straight arrow, friendly, kind, loyal. Loved to ask you things, loved to discuss things, loved to help. Can’t believe he’s gone. This is hard to write. He’s in very good company upstairs, with good mates, Ros, Heather, who also went to Dalgety, Reg, Peter, and others he thought the world of who beat him to the Grand Final.
Richard emailed these photos November 2020; his 65th birthday and retirement day with these words: “One Waler, one Timor pony, one pack, one bloke, one swag, one 2017 Indigo winery Sangiovese, one hip flask of snake bite cure (18yo Oban single malt), four Young Henry’s cloudy cider & tucker.”
His legacy to our horses will live on always and most of all, his memory as a fair, decent, kind, good person who got out there and did all he could for his causes, selflessly. A champion. Keep one cold Richard, and keep the fire burning.