updated 10/05/2009 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/05/2009 AT 2:50 PM ET
Guests arriving for Patrick Swayze’s private memorial on Sunday were greeted by a lone white horse, which was owned and beloved by the late actor whose boots were facing backwards in the stirrups.
“It’s an old horseman tradition,” a source tells PEOPLE of the gesture.
Held on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, Calif., the service – attended by several hundred friends and family, including Whoopi Goldberg – incorporated many photos of Swayze riding his horses, along with a video tribute to the star, who died from pancreatic cancer on Sept. 14.
The memorial, planned by the actor’s wife Lisa Niemi, featured speeches celebrating Swayze’s life and a performance by professional dancers in honor of his talent.
“A whole dance floor was built,” says another source. “The dancers did these amazing numbers.”