SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - The local equestrian community is mourning the loss of a beloved cowgirl.
Audrey Griffin died Friday doing the thing she loved best: riding her horse in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Word spread quickly, locals sharing memories of the highly talented rider.
Two of her good friends, Josiah Jenkins of Jedlicka's, and her veterinarian, Dr. Chris Pankau, both shared how Griffin grew up in the Los Angeles area and spent her teenage years traveling the world performing a Roman-riding jumping act called The Flying Valkyries.
Pankau said Griffin moved to the Santa Ynez Valley in the early 90s and was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 2008.
"She never owned her own horse until she was 50," Pankau said. "She rode every day. She said if she couldn't ride, she'd rather die," he said, as his voice cracked.
Jenkins also became emotional talking just hours after the loss of his good friend. He said Griffin was entered in this year's Team Penning events in the Fiesta Rodeo.
"She was one helluva rider," Jenkins said. "Roped even. She could handle a steer and calf very well."
Audrey Griffin leaves behind a large, extended family. She was 82 years old.