Horse known for Sherando Warrior appearances dies

Dennis Page rides his horse Dane in a 2013 photo during Sherando's game against Courtland. Dane died on Wednesday.   Rich Cooley/Daily file

Dennis Page rides his horse Dane in a 2013 photo during Sherando's game against Courtland. Dane died on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily file

The Sherando High School Warrior’s trusted steed of many years passed away Wednesday night.

Dennis Page has ridden with his horse Dane, who was blind in one eye, at Sherando football games and graduations since 2005. He said Dane was 28 to 30 years old and well known through Warrior appearances at the school as well as at Civil War reenactments in the 35th Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry.

“It’s going to be hard to find another one like him … he’s going to be a hard horse to replace,” he said.

Page said he had bought Dane in West Virginia with the initial intent to resell him. But after riding into their first reenactment, he could tell they shared a bond of trust.

He said Dane’s temperament and experience on the battlefield meant that he was perfectly suited for Sherando’s events. Students would come to pet Dane and paint him on Friday nights before his ride across the football field, and Page said that the horse was nigh unflappable.

“He loved doing it, he knew when it was time and he knew exactly what to do,” he said. “He was a horse that liked having a job.”

Robin Owens is a Gifted and Independent Study teacher at Sherando and has served as caretaker of the warrior since 1993, preparing him for his appearances. She remarked on Dane’s calm demeanor and how he seemed to really get in the mindset of his role.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a horse like him,” she said. “I just feel like we’ve lost part of our family.”

Owens said Page and Dane were the second duo to serve in the appearances, but the first to ride out before every home and playoff game. One year, she said the Warrior Club managed to get Dane onstage at the school’s auditorium for its awards ceremony. She said the club also once produced a Dane Christmas ornament.

“Mr. Page was the first one to set the atmosphere of the football stadium with the horse, coming across the football stadium and carrying the warrior’s spear,” she said.

Principal John Nelson said Dane has continued a tradition of pride for the students and the school.

“He’s just been, for 10 years, a part of our community,” he said. “He’s kind of become one of us.”

Page said Dane lived for 12 years with his other horse, Spider. He said he’ll be trying to acclimate Spider, who also accompanies him to reenactments, to appear with him at Sherando in the future.

“I think he’ll be fine, but I’m just going to have to work with him a little bit,” he said. “The biggest part is getting him through those gates.”

Owens said she will be spearheading an effort to create a token of memorial for Dane on behalf of the school’s faculty.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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