For those who actually read my random ramblings I apologise for being very quiet the last season. My work has kept me very busy and I spent the majority of the year running between events and weddings (which included numerous eventers!) with my camera resulting in my poor girl Fleur only getting out to a few riding club events in 2014 although I believe still managed to be in the top 3 of our Riding Club’s point trophy (awaiting confirmation)!
I had actually decided not to renew my BE membership for this year as I did not expect to be able to get time to event in 2015 and it turned out in the worst way possible that the decision was perhaps a fateful one.
Just before Christmas I had just stepped off a plane and on to a coach transfer on holiday when I got a dreaded call from my yard manager that Fleur had come in the field looking to be mildly colicky and vet was on route and they would keep me updated. About an hour later I got the worst news any horse owner can get, my beautiful girl had died. A post mortem confirmed she had died from an aneurysm from an undetectable defect she had almost certainly had from birth. Devastated is a mild description of what I was feeling but I soon became thankful for a number of things. First and foremost for an amazing team at the yard who firstly spotted there was something amiss and did everything possible to make Fleur as comfortable as possible in her last minutes, and ultimately meaning she was not alone when I couldn’t be there. Secondly there was nothing at all anyone could have done to have predicted or stopped it happening and it could have happened at any point in her life.
Fleur ended up having 14.5 years when it could so easily be a fraction of that and what a 14.5 years she had. OK relatively speaking they weren’t that impressive but she left a mark on mine and many other’s lives and that is what counts. As a youngster she was a brat to say the least and a good friend rightly remarked ‘had she ended up in other hands she would most likely ended up shot at 5’ as yes she was that bad. But although branded dangerous at a couple of points in her early years she never actually tried to get me off, yes she just had some major issues that needed a lot of time and patience but they were solvable.
It took years, probably actually no definitely too many years but the end result was a good one and no one got hurt along the way. She became an extremely careful showjumper and from 26 BE events with me she had 8 poles of which at least half I was to blame for, her dressage could be amazing when I rode her well and a 22.5 resulting at a win at Bickenhall is without doubt one of our BE highlights. She took me to competing Novice including taking me to the riding club national championships at Aston Le Walls where the track could easily been mistaken for a soft intermediate (I turned white walking that course!) but she powered round clear (albeit slowly!).
2014 had been the year of nailing our dressage, we hadn’t been able to event due to my work so worked hard at home with the help of a great instructor and made great progress scoring 70%+ in almost every test we did, we even won three pieces of silverware at riding club competitions. We did still manage a bit of fun including jumping one of very few clears in the Riding Club challenge at Blenheim in August.
She went to early without doubt but she went in her prime, she was never going to be a horse to retire to the field quietly.
But what now? Well life goes on, I only managed 2 weeks without riding and one of those was spent up a mountain. At first I rode several of the many horses (and ponies) offered by friends locally. I was positively overwhelmed by the number of kind offers that were made. I had already made the decision not to rush into buying a new horse as with work so busy and my love for bringing on a youngster which would have some rather large shoes to fill it made sense to wait a few months till later in the year. Riding multiple horses of all shapes and sizes would also be great for my riding as it is so easy to slip into bad habits when only riding one.
A few weeks ago though a friend offered me the chance to ride and compete her youngster who she didn’t have enough time for, as she already had several others mainly her hunters in work. So on to the scene steps Bea! Bea is a rising TBxWB 8yo mare who was only backed lightly last summer so essentially a 4yo in terms of her education. The basics are all ‘installed’ and she has even been out hunting a few times but now my challenge (which I have duly accepted) is to turn her into an eventer noting she hasn’t yet been jumped under saddle, I’m optimistic though!
I’ve only ridden her about 5 or 6 times now but she is progressing well and a quick learner. She is definitely more mentally mature and stronger than a 4yo which both have advantages and disadvantages. Our first competition outing is already planned as well for next weekend. Will be working solidly on our canter transitions until then accordingly 😉 Will keep you all updated with how she progresses.
As a closing note as insurance companies are often given a lot of bad press (some justifiably!) I feel the need to sing the praises of SEIB who were quick and efficient paying out and also importantly were a friendly and understanding voice at the other end of a phone when notifying them of Fleur’s death.
But the final word (or photo) has to go to Fleur and what I feel is a rather apt quote, a horse of a lifetime is more than just a horse they are a friend….