The reined cow horse industry lost a great supporter when Dominic “Dom” Conicelli died in October. The Collegeville, Pennsylvania, resident and pioneer of reined cow horse on the East Coast was 86.
Born just outside Philadelphia, Conicelli always had a love for horses. As a teen, he got a paper route to fund his horse habit. Later, he bought horses of his own and eventually found his way into the discipline that became his passion – reined cow horse.
Conicelli was one of the founders of the Atlantic Reined Cow Horse Association (ARCHA). Friend and fellow reined cow horse competitor Dick Rosell, also there for the beginning of the association, said Conicelli put his time, effort and money into getting the organization and its shows off the ground.
“We had a rough time making ends meet at the horse shows, and he would throw in an extra $1,000, quite often, for the horse shows,” Rosell said of Conicelli, who built a string of auto-sales companies from scratch. “He did that for a couple years, probably, and we finally got onto our feet.”
Although it is on the East Coast and far from traditional cow horse country, the little association that Conicelli helped build got noticed in the industry. It was twice awarded as the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Affiliate of the Year, taking top honors in 2015 and 2017. Conicelli was a director at the time of his death.
Conicelli’s dedication to the sport went beyond financial support. The doors were always open at his Kinda Silly Farms in Collegeville, where he hired professional trainer Mark Sigler. Rosell said his friend let anybody ride, regardless of whether they had a horse in training there or not.
“He loved to have people there at the barn and riding,” Rosell said. “He would make sure he was riding when we were riding, and he always stayed out there with us.”
Longtime Conicelli employee Edie Petaccio said the generosity at the farm – no one paid for lessons and they could ride on his cows for free – was an extension of who he was as a person and also his dedication to growing the ARCHA.
“He wanted people to learn and a lot of those people in our area couldn’t afford to do that,” said Petaccio, who worked for Conicelli for 31 years. “And, by doing that, he got a lot more people interested in the cow horse, and our club started to grow and now it’s a very, very successful stand-on-its-own, not-drowning club.
Conicelli rode the winners of $13,774 and owned the earners with a cumulative Equi-Stat record of $289,601. He also bred the winners of $45,960 and stood stallions at Kinda Silly Farm. Shortly before his death, he was inducted into the NRCHA Hall of Merit.
Rosell will miss his friend’s sense of humor, and the way he always reminded Rosell to give people a chance. “He’d never knock anybody down.”
“He always had a smile on his face, always loved to tell a joke and laugh. His laugh was the greatest laugh in the world,” Rosell said. “I mean, probably that’s one thing I’m gonna miss as much as anything.”
For Petaccio, Conicelli’s generosity and the way he lived his life was evident in October at his funeral in Pennsylvania. She said Connicelli, who appeared in commercials as his company’s mascot, Mr. Nice Guy, was a wonderful father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.
“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people came to his funeral. It was just constant. It was like an hour wait to go thorough the viewing. It was crazy,” said Petaccio, who worked for Conicelli for 31 years. “Everybody said the same thing, ‘What a wonderful person.’ You know, what a nice legacy, when people say, ‘He is really going to be missed; he is a true-to-heart Mr. Nice Guy.’”
Family members requested any memorials be forwarded to the NRCHA Youth Scholarship Fund, 1017 N. Highway 377, Pilot Point, TX 76258 or to St. Mary Catholic Church, 140 W. Hector St., Conshohocken, PA 19428.
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