Remembering Patrick Swayze: the late ‘Dirty Dancing’ star’s lifelong love for horses

Patrick Swayze was one of the most iconic stars of his era. Hit movies like Dirty Dancing and Ghost made him a major sex symbol around the world, and he always drew acclaim for his charismatic leading performances.

Sadly, Swayze was taken from us far too early: he died in 2009 following a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

In addition to being an iconic actor, Patrick Swayze was an avid lover of horses — and after he died, a horse greeted guests at his memorial service. Fourteen years after Swayze’s passing, read more about his love for horses.

Bart Sherkow /

Swayze grew up in Houston, Texas and frequently visited ranches, describing his father as a “cowboy.” He visited the famous Gleannloch Farms in Texas, which inspired a dream to one day own Arabian horses.

“When I was a little boy I always had the vision of a perfect horse who would be like a steed of the gods,” he told Desert Heritage Magazine. “I grew up with Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds. At Gleannloch Farms I had the chance to meet the most beautiful horses I had ever seen in my life. Their elegance and intelligence impressed me very much.”

As a dancer known for his own impressive physique, Swayze said he was always fascinated with the breed’s beauty and function.

“I like the form of the head, the proud trot, the harmonious physique. Everything fits together and is in accord,” he once said, according to Horse Nation. “There is a natural balance in everything. I am a dancer, and I can tell when a body is made with function in mind. A healthy Arabian is built for function! And that fascinates me.”

Patrick Swayze on the set of “The Outsiders”. (Photo by Nancy Moran/Sygma via Getty Images)

Swayze’s wife Lisa Niemi visited the same farm as a girl and shared Swayze’s dream of one day raising Arabian horses. The couple bought their first Arabian in 1986, and were mentored by Gleannloch Farms’ Tom McNair.

In a 1995 interview with Hollywood on Horses, Swayze showed off his ranch outside of Hollywood, complete with a horse stable in the backyard. Even at the height of his movie star success, Swayze said he just wanted to get back to being around horses.

“It was my dream for a long time,” Swayze says. “I had been away from horses for a long time… I sort of became a city boy living in New York.”

“I came out to California, and that was my biggest focus: just to work enough to get out of Hollywood.”

Swayze’s favorite horse was a stallion named Tammen, who was a gift from Lisa and was a key part of the couple’s Arabian breeding.

In a 1997 interview, the couple said their goal was to “have fun and learn more” and to keep “trying to breed the most beautiful horses we possibly can.”

For many years, Swayze lived his lifelong dream, breeding beautiful Arabian horses and participating in horse shows while continuing to have a successful career in Hollywood.

American actor Patrick Swayze smiles as he poses in a leather jacket at a charity auction of Arabian horses for AIDS research on the grounds of Ventura Farms, Thousand Oaks, California, April 1988. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)

Sadly, Swayze left us far too soon. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, and while battling the disease spent his final months at his ranch with his wife. He died on September 14, 2009 at the age of 57.

But after his passing, he got a true cowboy send-off — with the help of one of his beloved horses. According to People, the hundreds of mourners attending Swayze’s memorial in LA were greeted by a white horse belonging to Swayze, whose boots were facing backwards in the stirrups.

A source explained that this was an “old horseman tradition.” Swayze was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at his beloved horse ranch.

Patrick Swayze was known to millions as a great actor, dancer and sex symbol, but deep down his true love was just being on a ranch with his horses ❤️

Please share this story in memory of Patrick Swayze.


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