HILLSDALE - Max Ledyard, who had a passion for raising and training horses, died of a heart attack Friday in his home here. He was 51.
Mr. Ledyard was born in Hillsdale County and grew up on his family's farm, developing an affection for horses.
“He practically grew up on a pony,” said Doris Meister, Mr. Ledyard's mother. “And when he outgrew the pony, he just got a bigger horse to ride. It was a thing with him and his father.”
Mr. Ledyard's father competed in horse pulling events, a path that his son would follow.
Horse pulling events test how far a horse can pull an ever-increasing amount of weight. The horse that pulls the most weight the farthest distance wins.
Both Mr. Ledyard and his father experienced great success, entering and winning horse-pulling events across Michigan and Ohio, often at county and state fairs.
At one point, they simultaneously held the world records in their respective horse-pulling classes.
“My husband pulled ponies and [Max] got into the big Belgian horses,” said Mrs. Meister. “We were very proud of them both.”
Mr. Ledyard raised and trained the horses he entered in competition.
“He always had his own horses, ever since he started pulling,” Mrs. Meister said.
Mr. Ledyard's love of horses carried over into his professional life as well. He owned and operated the Tri-State Connection in Camden, Mich., which buys, sells, and trains horses.
He was an independent trucker, hauling mainly cattle and, of course, horses.
He graduated from West Unity, Ohio, High School in 1968.
He was a kind man. “He was big-hearted, and always willing to help others,” said Mrs. Meister.
No one knows that better than Terry and Jeff Burger, to whom Mr. Ledyard opened his home when they were in need.
“I went to live with him when I was a kid,” Terry Burger said. “I wasn't actually his son, but he raised me like a son. He was a good guy.”
Surviving are his mother, Doris Meister; sisters, Peggy Hutchison and Marcia Holsopple, and brother, Grover.
Services will be 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Eagle Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.
Mr. Ledyard's casket will be pulled to the cemetery behind a team of his horses, his mother said.
The family requests tributes to a charity of the donor's choice.