Prominent horsewoman Mary Anne Parris, owner of Winning Ways Farm in Lexington, died Feb. 19 at the age of 80.
For many years Parris boarded, bred, and prepared horses for sale for her clients. With Ashford Stud, she co-bred Mary Delaney
, a daughter of Hennessy who won the 2007 Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland Race Course
and earned $305,879. She also bred Canadian grade III winner Rancour
, a son of Evansville Slew who earned $226,517.
Parris was legendary in the Quarter Horse industry, breaking down barriers in a show horse world once reserved for men only. She was a pioneer in the halter classes and was involved with several American Quarter Horse Association champions.
"Her eye for a classy horse never failed," said longtime friend John Henry Mulholland, farm manager of Mulholland Springs in Lexington.
"Mary Anne was an amazing woman. Easily the strongest woman I've ever known. I saw her carry 80-pound alfalfa bales in each arm. She made her own way in life. No one gave her a break ever."
Parris boarded horses for Mulholland's parents several years ago at her north Lexington farm and about 20 years ago, he spent a summer at her farm.
"To have known Mary Anne was a pleasure," Mulholland said. "To have called her a friend was a blessing. No one will ever forget her spirit, her laugh, or her passion for horses.
"Mary Anne was sweet, she was loud, her laugh was obnoxious but it was also infectious. She could make your side split with her stories of hauling horses around the country. It was a blessing to be her friend. I'm happy she's pain free and showing horses in heaven now."
Parris also loved dogs and was an avid breeder of poodles. Her dogs traveled all over the country with her and rarely left her side. Often, they could be seen guarding her truck at the breeding sheds, Mulholland said.
A memorial will be held Feb. 28 at Pine Meadows Nursing Home in Lexington, starting at 2 p.m. EST.