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Virginia Tibbs Gives a Lifetime of Love to Everything Equine

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Virginia Tibbs (in wheelchair) inspects daughter Laurie atop Mani after a reception honoring the horse and rider for their impressive wins at last fall’s Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.  Virginia’s oldest son, Mike Brown, is guiding the chair.  Photo by Ma Virginia Tibbs (in wheelchair) inspects daughter Laurie atop Mani after a reception honoring the horse and rider for their impressive wins at last fall’s Arabian Sport Horse Nationals. Virginia’s oldest son, Mike Brown, is guiding the chair. Photo by Ma

Virginia Brown arrived in Sandpoint via train from Chicago on Christmas night, 1945, having told her Chicago relatives that she was going to Idaho to “raise horses.” 

It took a while for this young mother with a growing family to get settled into her goal, but since her arrival here, she has raised horses and ridden hundreds of miles in parades, shows and trail rides.  

She has also shared a lifelong love for horses through beautiful Western art, her involvement in several local and regional horse organizations, and through her exemplary guidance of hundreds of youngsters as a 4-H horse leader for 27 years. 

By 1948, Virginia owned Adare’s Countess Largo, a bay Saddlebred-Morgan yearling filly, purchased from Dub Lewis (known for Dub’s Drive-In). She kept Largo in a lot next to the family home on Euclid until her purchase of a 40-acre farm near the airport on North Boyer. 

She had also joined the Sandpoint Saddle Club where she met her future husband, Harold Tibbs, owner of foundation Appaloosa stallion Toby I,  charter member of the Appaloosa Horse Club Board of Directors and winner of several championships in the first-ever National Appaloosa Show.   

When the two were married in 1954, improvements at the farm opened the door for more horses, including a handsome Appaloosa stallion named Ponderay’s Fancy Pants (Largo—Toby I). The Tibbs showed their young horse extensively and successfully at Appaloosa Shows throughout the Inland Northwest.

Eventually, through a friendship with Gene and Etta Balch, the Tibbs started adding Arabians to their herd. They also helped found the Bonner County Horseman’s Association. Virginia served as its historian and photographer. Her collection includes photos of area trail rides, parades and construction of a once-thriving rodeo grounds, now home to Interstate Asphalt and Paving.

Virginia’s 4-H horse leadership began in the late 1950s when her members participated in Bonner County’s first 4-H horse show. Under her tutelage, Virginia’s own children successfully competed in the 4-H horse program. All three daughters, Marianne (myself), Barbara and Laurie, devoted many years to 4-H leadership and general horse instruction and judging themselves.

A passion for excellence, a strong competitive spirit, a willingness to go the extra mile and continued courage to keep things honest marked Virginia’s tenure as a 4-H leader. 

Besides leadership, her 4-H contributions included everything from show-secretarial duties to working the gate as a steward, to publicizing horse activities as well as spearheading fundraising activities for local youth horse judging teams to attend national competitions. 

Virginia rode her horses to North Idaho mountain tops with friends and on organized rides, including the once popular Pend Oreille Trail Ride. She also promoted and worked the annual St. Jude’s Trail Ride at Western Pleasure.  

In later years, finally having the opportunity to use her art degree from Michigan’s Nazareth College, she developed her annual Christmas-card project into a business called Greenhorn Mountain Scenics. Her Western pen-and-ink and watercolor cards of beautiful horses and rustic barns were always favorites at craft sales and local art shops. 

This Chicago native has definitely left her mark on horse interests in Bonner County. She has not only raised many beautiful horses, but her devotion to all things equine—through her actions and her art—lives as an inspiration to all who have known her.  

Editor's Note: Just a few days after this issue went to press, Virginia Tibbs passed away and Bonner County lost one of its leading ladies. You can visit her online obituary here.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

Tagged as:

Bonner County Fair, Virginia Tibbs, Appaloosa Horse Club, Bonner County Horsemans Association, Bonner County 4-H

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