Dr. Gordon Gilbertson Passes

Published: May 19, 2016 02:36 pm EDT

Trot Insider has learned that horseman Dr. Gordon Gilbertson, DVM, the creator of the ‘Quick Hitch’ who was also on this year’s Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame ballot, has passed away at the age of 95.

Gordon Earle Gilbertson passed peacefully at the Spruce Lodge in Stratford, Ont. on Monday, May 9.

Gordon, who was an owner, trainer and driver, was born in Hagersville, Ont. on June 3, 1920, the son of the late Gordon Reid Gilbertson and the former Elsie Heibner. He graduated Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelph in 1944.

Dr. Gilbertson revolutionized an aspect of the Standardbred racing industry when he invented the Quick Hitch. He began to act on a ‘dream’ in the late seventies by using his extensive experience of both treating horses as a veterinarian, and his hands-on experience in training and driving harness horses to fuel his idea.

In 1980, Dr. Gilbertson secured Canadian and U.S. patents on his new Quick Hitch, which would eventually be called ‘Rondeau Quick Hitch,’ as a reference to the area where he lived in Kent County, Ont. Dr. Gilbertson was a resident of Stratford, Ont. at the time of his passing.

In 2014, Dr. Gilbertson was profiled by Robert Smith in an excellent ‘SC Rewind’ piece. In that piece, Smith discussed how Dr. Gilbertson worked tirelessly to make his dream a reality.

’Despite his countless hours of work and thousands of miles of travel in pursuit of his dream, many believe that he has seldom been given the proper acclaim, and that worse yet he has never been financially rewarded. Whatever the view or the opinions people may have, he certainly has had a huge impact on the growth and modern day development of the sport of harness racing as a whole.’

Dr. Gilbertson is the beloved husband of Eleanor Gilbertson. Loving father of Patricia Wedge (John), Christine Hossack (Dave), David Gilbertson (Julie), Jane Allardyce, Nancy Gilbert (Tim) and Tom Allardyce (Monica). Grandfather of 14 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild. Also survived by a sister Isabel Hartwick and several nieces and nephews. Gordon was predeceased by his first wife Marion, by a daughter Jamie Lynn Vince (2016), by a sister Marguerite Percy (Jack), by a son-in-law Ian McRae and by a brother-in-law Karl Hartwick.

Services for Dr. Gilbertson took place this past Friday (May 13) at the W.G. Young Funeral Home in Stratford.

Expressions of sympathy or memorial donations may be made to the Stratford/Perth Humane Society through the funeral home (wgyoungfuneralhome.com).

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Gordon Gilbertson.

(With files from W.G. Young Funeral Home)



I got to know Doc in the late '50s when he was racing Ambitious, quite a good mare at the time that he owned, trained and drove. I used his vet services many times when racing at Windsor in the 70's but most of all I enjoyed our many conversations throughout the years. His thoughtful observations and inquisitive nature were always present and his persistence with the invention of the "quick hitch" ranks up there with the development of the starting gate. My condolences to the family, rest easy old friend.

I had known Gord since the early 1940's in Veterinary College. When I went back in '44 he was graduated and was practicing. When he found out I was into Standardbreds, he invited me to his place for the weekend. On the Saturday after calls, he took me up #3 highway as far as Tillsonburg introducing me to all the horsemen along the way. He also showed me Dillon Mc who was at stud at Norwich. We remained friends ever since. He explained to me how he got the idea for the quick hitch after a serious accident on the track at London.
I spoke to a large number of horsemen over the last few years and all agreed that he should be in the Hall of Fame. It would have been nice if he had been inducted before his passing.
My sincerest condolences to all the family, John S. Findley, D.V.M.

When Dr. Gilbertson was developing the "Quick Hitch", I was the second trainer to try out his invention. ( I don't know who was the first) But I can tell you that my experiences with Doc both personally and professionally were top notch. He was a real gentleman and a man I highly respected. I, along with several others, have nominated him for the Cam Fella award in the "builders" category and strongly feel that he should be in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame. He never got the recognition that he so rightly deserved for his invention. I also feel that he should still be given the award posthumously. My deepest condolences to the family. Rest in peace, Gord.

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