By Equine Canada
Doug Leatherdale passed away peacefully on his birthday, December 6, 2015, surrounded by loved ones. He had just turned 79.
Leatherdale was an integral part of the Canadian dressage scene, well respected as both a breeder of high quality horses, and as an owner of numerous grand prix mounts. Along with his wife, Louise, the couple operated Leatherdale Farms in Long Lake, Minnesota, for nearly 35 years, earning a reputation for producing top quality Hanoverians.
Leatherdale built up a stable full of talented horses, including several breeding stallions in Germany, such as His Highness, Hezensdieb, and Damsey. In 2001, he forged a budding partnership with well-known Canadian Equestrian Team member Diane Creech, providing her with several mounts over the years, including current grand prix partner Devon L.
A former president of the American Hanoverian Society, Leatherdale was named the Dressage Canada Owner of the Year in 2006 for his substantial and continued support of the sport of dressage.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Doug Leatherdale,” says Equine Canada president, Al Patterson. “The dressage community has lost one if its greatest champions. He did so much to foster participation in the sport here in Canada, including developing a talented string of horses for Canadian riders. While he will be missed, his legacy will live on with the horses he bred and the riders who campaign them.”
In addition to his equestrian pursuits, Leatherdale was a well-known business man with accomplishments too numerous to list. He served as the Chairman and CEO of the St. Paul Companies, Chairman and board member of the Minnesota Orchestra, and board member of United Healthcare. He was also part of The University of Winnipeg Foundation, a lifetime director of the University of Minnesota Foundation, and an enthusiastic philanthropist.
Leatherdale donated millions over the years to projects focused on helping animal, cultural and educational causes, including a world-class veterinary school for horses, the Leatherdale Equine Center at the University of Minnesota, and the Global Citizen Internships program at the University of Winnipeg’s Global College.
Earlier this year, he and his wife, Louise, donated $2 million to the Imagine A Place campaign, the re-development plan for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In their honour, the park renamed a facility in the Journey to Churchill exhibit. The Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre is a research hub that educates the public on wildlife, the environment, and conservation efforts – a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the animals he loved.
Leatherdale is survived by his wife, Louise, children Mary Jo, Chris, Tim, and Tom, his sister Sharon, and eight grandchildren. Apart from being a community leader, he was a loving husband and father, and will be greatly missed.
Photo: Doug Leatherdale, pictured with his wife, Louise, was an integral supporter of the Canadian dressage industry.