Obituary: Max E. Gahwyler, M.D., horse expert, long-time Darien resident
Dr. Max E. Gahwyler, or “Dr. Max” as he was known in the horse world, passed away this past Friday May 13, 2016 at his home in Darien. He was 92 years old, and a town resident for over half a century. Dr. Gahwyler was born in Switzerland on July 22, 1923, and spent his formative years mountain climbing and skiing in the town of Arosa, Switzerland. He studied internal medicine in Lausanne and Geneva, and met the love of his life, Doris Muller, in the early 1940’s. After World War II, the couple moved to the United States. Dr. Gahwyler continued to work as a physician, as well as developing a long-term career at Pfizer and American Home, where he worked in antibiotic research
and world-wide marketing.
Dr. Gahwyler had a lifelong passion for four legged creatures. Beloved by dogs, cats, but most of all horses, he was an early pioneer in the U.S. dressage movement. Many town residents will have seen him on the Ox Ridge Polo Field throughout the years, where he was an active club member and President of the Board of Stewards, played Polo, gave lessons, and trained horses to the higher dressage levels. He authored a series of three books, collectively known as “The Competitive Edge,” which helped riders understand the fundamentals of equine physics and how to improve horse/rider performance. Dr. Gahwyler was a national and internationally recognized dressage judge, and spent many years judging at the highest levels in the US and abroad. He was one of a small group of visionaries who worked with Margarita Serrell to establish the American Dressage Institute (“ADI”), a forerunner to the United States Dressage Federation. He served as president, and in these formative years at the ADI, was instrumental in bringing the best teaching and judging talent over from Europe, such as Colonel Hans Handler. His desire to improve the quality of dressage instruction in the US has earned him a place in the US Dressage Federation Hall of Fame. Given his love of the sport late into his golden years, he was awarded one of the first riding centurion prizes (the summation of the rider’s and horse’s ages). Marrying his passions for dressage and traveling, he has inspired thousands of riders through his writings and hands-on approach to schooling at clinics and competitions.
Dr. Gahwyler is survived by his wife Doris Gahwyler, who shared his love of animals. He was a mentor, friend and beloved family member to many people, and his passing will be grieved by many throughout the world. His Swiss family will miss him tremendously as will his “adopted” family, the Handlers, who were blessed to have him in their lives. A Memorial Service will be held at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 1864 Post Road, Darien on Friday, June 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM.