Posted Online: Dec. 09, 2005, 11:00 pm

Christmas walk fixture Bully the horse retires

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By Amy Thon,

Photo: Amy Thon
Melody Clementz gets her horse Bully ready for its last night pulling a carriage at the Geneseo Victorian Christmas Walk. The walk celebrated its 20th anniversary Saturday night, and Bully has given rides at every walk. Mrs. Clementz retired Bully after the walk.

GENESEO -- Bully has never missed a year of Geneseo's Victorian Christmas Walk, but Saturday night, her 20th year, was her last.

As the city celebrated the 20th anniversary of the event, Bullet, nicknamed Bully, gave her last carriage rides around the streets of Geneseo. Her owner, Melody Clementz has decided to retire Bully from the hard work and will only use her now for shorter jobs, like weddings.

"I think it's her turn to retire. She's in fabulous condition. I hope to have her for many more years to come," Mrs. Clementz said of the brown Standardbred mare. "I'll probably look back when she's 45 and think why did I retire her?"

Another horse, Sugar, will be with Mrs. Clementz next year giving rides, but Bully can't be replaced, she said.

"That's going to be the hardest part," she said. "I know her so well. I trust her. We know each other."

Mrs. Clementz wasn't complaining about the snowy, 20-degree weather Saturday night. She's seen worse nights over the years.

"I remember our first Victorian walk. There were only two of us giving rides that night," she said. "It was 8 degrees when we started, and 8 below when we finished."

Another night, the walk ended early thanks to a blizzard.

"As I looked down the boulevard toward downtown, a blizzard came sweeping through and the street just seemed to disappear," Mrs. Clementz said. "The drive home took forever because we couldn't see the road at all. I was so thankful and relieved when we pulled into the barnyard."

Bully is 24 years old, and worked as a racehorse before Mrs. Clementz got her in 1984. She had a hairline fracture and needed some rest. So she was offered free to a good home by her owner.

Mrs. Clementz said when she walked into the barn, there were four horses with their heads hanging out of the stalls. "The gentleman asked me which one I thought (Bully) was. I pointed to the fourth one and said 'I hope it's that one' and it was," she said.

Bully has become a pro at the carriage rides. She even stops and looks both ways at the stop signs, Mrs. Clementz said.

Saturday's walk featured fireworks and 20 lighted trees to celebrate the 20th anniversary.

Mayor Pat Eberhardt said the walk is a great family tradition. He remembers attending the first walk pushing his son Nick in a stroller through the snow. Nick is now 21 years old and a student at Southern Illinois University, Mayor Eberhardt said.

"It's a great event for the whole city to participate in at Christmas time," he said.