This week, I have possibly experienced the worst week of the 30 years I have spent with horses. My beloved horse was feeling rather well when I got on him and in his antics he slipped on the concrete yard and we both came crashing down. A complete freak accident which nobody could have predicted. As soon as he got up I knew what had happened and once the vet came out the words no rider wants to hear – smashed pelvis and no other option but PTS.
I was absolutely heartbroken not only for the horse but the years of hard work that have gone into producing this horse. I have had him since he was just broken and the change in him was monumental. This was a horse who fell into my lap as he was rescued in a terrible state and nursed back to health. He nearly died of septicaemia but survived. My mother went to a dinner party at his owners and came home and told me about him. She could not remember anything about him but said he had a nice head and I should ring his owner to have a word about him. I had never met him until the day he was dropped off.
A quiet and nervous horse turned into a super confident and wonderful character who never failed to make me laugh. At his first jumping lesson in 2010, my trainer told me she would not give me 50p for him, at his last lesson with this trainer she told me that this horse would easily have enough scope for anything I wanted to do.
At the Badminton fun ride (his fourth time of ever jumping!) he jumped everything and I was secretly very excited about this bold horse who could not canter but kept going and was not phased by anything. Progress was slow in places but he was always willing and tried really hard.
This year he went Novice and made it feel pretty easy. The showjumping was a bit hit and miss but a lot of it was me, as I am lousy in this phase. We finished Dauntsey with a double clear and I was thrilled and so excited about 2014. Sadly it was not meant to be. In my devastation his owner told me that he had had a wonderful 3 years and that he was lucky to have got this far as he was destined for the meat man.
A lot of friends have experienced heartbreak with horses and its something I would wish for nobody. What it has made me realise is that I still love horses and I still have the passion to keep competing. I will have to start again from scratch which is a bit demoralising but I know once I find the right horse all the excitement and the challenge of turning them into the best they can be will return.
Even in all my despair, I appreciate everything Arthur did for me and everything he taught me. He taught me what a horse with an amazing brain will do for you, he was talented on the flat though tricky in the contact so he taught me tactful riding and how far ahead you need to plan things. I learnt so many little things on this horse and all these lessons I can now take to another horse. So for that I will always be grateful to him.