Racehorse to Riding Horse: Saturday’s Elite Test for Retrained Thoroughbreds at Dublin Horse Show

Dublin Horse Show logoOnce upon a time, ridden racehorses were not recognized by the horse show establishment in Europe or in the United States and Canada. They were lumped in with the purpose-bred warmbloods and crossbreds.

While there were year-end awards for specific breeds and even national recognition for sport horses and warmbloods, no one gave much thought to the horses who had survived a complete career change, overcome racing’s rocky road of longterm soundness threats, and beaten the behavior problems that gave ex-racehorses a black eye in the public view.

“Well, he’s off the track, what do you expect?”

How many times have you heard that?

The past five years have seen a seismic perception change of the ex-racehorse. And nowhere is the ex-racehorse more celebrated in grand style than at one of the world’s penultimate horse events, the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show.

Judges at Dublin Horse Show

Thoroughbreds have to be more than beautiful to please the judges at Dublin, who will evaluate their conformation, gait, how they go under saddle and--this always shocks American visitors--mount up and ride some of the horses around the ring. (Alanah McKillen photo)

Held each August at the Royal Dublin Society’s showgrounds, the “Racehorse to Riding Horse” class attracts thousands of onlookers. Why? Because they might see someone they remember. Someone who helped them earn a few euros from the bookie…or lose a few.

They might also see a showhorse or field hunter prospect they’d like to buy.

At this class, the remembered racehorse and the future sport horse are one and the same.

The class, held in its elegant setting, looks too easy. The immaculately groomed showhorses bear little resemblance to their lean former selves. There is a mix of flat racers, hurdlers and National Hunt champions but you’d barely recognize them, plump as they are. Their tails and manes are immaculate, their stride transitions perfected and–oh wait, was that a little buck? Hmm, that one seems to pull.

When the judges ask for the gallop, will they take off or will they stay in hand?

In-hand class at Dublin Horse Show

Dublin Horse Show provides one of the world's most classic settings for a horse show. (Ian Armstrong photo)

If you happen to find yourself ringside at Dublin tomorrow, you’ll see 18 ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds under the judge’s–not the starter’s–orders for the popular class. Before you think that this has a connotation of charity or welfare to it, consider this: the entry fee is close to US$400 per horse. There are rules that the horse needs to be Irish-bred or have been trained in Ireland; there’s plenty of fine print. For the most part, these are not “rescued” racehorses like we’d see in the USA.

And they’re not just any racehorses, either: you’ll see dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Moscow Flyer, closely followed by chasing hero Beef or Salmon. Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George IV Chase winner, Kicking King will be hot on their heels, along with Champion Chaser Newmill. Here comes Mossbank and Mansony who will be ridden by his old race trainer, Arthur Moore.

Kicking King in the ridden racehorse class at Dublin Horse Show

National Hunt champion Kicking King in the ridden racehorse class at Dublin Horse Show; photo from the 2011 show.

Two Aintree Grand National winners, Numbersixvalverde and Silver Birch, have met before at Beechers Brook but this time their battle takes place in RDS Ring 1. Hurdlers Hardy Eustace, Harchibald, Dom Fontenail and Accordian Etoile will take on flat racers like Snaefell and Sabadilla.

The attractive gray Firecatcher, and polished accomplices Beau de Turgeon, Horseface Jack and Marche Militaire are proven winners in the show ring, each having won an Open Racehorse to Riding Horse class to secure an invitational place at this year’s class.

Sponsored by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, the “Ridden to Riding Horse” event promises to be spectacular and a big feature of the 2012 show. Since horses are a big export for Ireland, it is not too far a stretch to suggest that this horsey nation may have a scheme up its sleeve to launch a new cash crop from its retiring runners and jumpers. The show also features a parade of Thoroughbred stallions from all over Ireland. At this show, riding and racing are not held at an arm’s length from each other.

To celebrate Dublin’s Racehorse to Riding Horse annual super-spectacle, The Jurga Report has a treat for you. Over the next few days, you’ll go undercover and as the blog profiles one horse’s story of what it takes to make it to Dublin, where champion and unknown ex-racehorses will meet to walk, trot, canter, reverse, back and yes! gallop for the judges and crowd.

Except this horse started with a definite handicap. He was rough, rainscalded and wormy. But his new owners thought he just might have what it takes to put a spin on the public perception of the recycled Thoroughbred.

Check the next few entries on the blog to begin the adventure. And don’t be discouraged by a buck here and there. It’s all part of the show, and the fun!

Special thanks to Fiona Sheridan of the Royal Dublin Society for providing names of the horses entered in this year’s class.

Note: Shows exclusively for ex-racehorses have begun to crop up in the United States (hooray!) and ex-racehorse classes and awards are well-established elsewhere. The Dublin class is different in that it features horses that are household names in Ireland and for the publicity it brings to ex-racehorses: the Dublin show attracts an audience of 80,000 and is televised all over Ireland and (for some events) all over the world.

The Jurga Report’s Ex-Racehorse Reality TV Part 1: Mr. Lloyd’s Makeover for the Dublin Horse Show

From Racehorse to Showhorse: Wendy Wooley’s blog detailing her retraining of the beautiful ex-racehorse, Jaguar Hope, offers some American-style insight into the process.

Off-Track Thoroughbreds blog by Susan Salk reports on the growing culture of re-training, owning and riding ex-racehorses in the United States.

Retraining of Racehorses is the mother ship web site for the vision and organization of the British program dedicated to responsible ownership, committed trainers and a proud new tradition in almost every horse sport for the ex-racehorse in Britain.

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Hoof Forensics: Abandoned Horses May Be Standing on Clues to Their Past, Their Identity or Their Future

Horse welfare investigations might find clues on the bottom of horses' hooves.

Horse welfare investigations should include deciphering clues offered by the horse's hooves.

Everyone talks a lot about abandoned and “rescued” horses. It’s a hot-button issue in the United States, where the termination of horse slaughter has been offered as a reason for the exponential number of so-called “unwanted” horses.

The Jurga Report for EQUUS MagazineUnfortunately, horse abandonment and neglect is not isolated to the United States. It is a problem in many countries.

The drought that is crippling many parts of the United States is a key factor to consider at present. Authorities are predicting that a massive increase in the cost of hay nationwide, or a marked decrease in the quality of local hay fed to horses in drought-afflicted areas, will lead to malnutrition, emaciation and a surge in horse abandonment as winter approaches.

There is no question that ownerless horses need tender loving care and a boost to their nutrition when they come under the care of law enforcement authorities, rescue organizations or foster caregivers. But, at the same time, animal officials in local governments are charged with trying to find out whose horse they have in their care.

RSPCA's abanadoned pony with infected hind limbs

The RSPCA in Great Britain is hoping that a pony's hind leg infection might be a clue to find out who abandoned it. (RSPCA image)

In some cases, the problem is compounded because the horses abandoned are suffering from health problems that have not been treated. Chronic laminitis is a common problem, and often has not been addressed.  On the other hand, the horse might be wearing expensive shoes that were applied months earlier and never reset. Finding out what veterinarian treated the horse’s problem, if one did, would be critical information to caregivers who want to avoid a recurrence of laminitis and would benefit from knowing what caused the initial problem and what the earlier prognosis had been.

Advanced thrush and canker, or deformed hooves and legs on foals and yearlings are also common in abandoned or neglected horses.

Many hoofcare and veterinary professionals will tell you that they have photographic memories when it comes to hooves they have worked on. They also may remember horses that were shown to them, whether in person or in photos, to ask advice for an advanced condition. Even unusual posture or behavior when on crossties can be helpful in identifying a horse’s origin or identity.

The likelihood that a horse receiving professional services will be abandoned is slim compared to those not-readily-visible horses that everyone knows are out there: the ones in a back field somewhere, or shut inside a barn. These are the emaciated ones that the owner doesn’t want the neighbors to see. These are the ones so lame they can’t even hobble out of the barn when authorities do arrive.

On the other hand, hooves can be the first line of investigation when trying to de-code the past of a rescued horse. Farriers and veterinarians can help by telling rescuers or investigators what they see in the hooves.

It is valuable information to rescuers to have an estimate of how long it has been since a horse received treatment or new shoes. It’s valuable to know that the shoes have been on for a given number of months, or that the horse is freshly shod. A farrier can easily tell if a horse was shod by a trained professional or if the shoes were nailed on by an amateur.

© World Horse Welfare hoof neglect and possible laminitis

Some rescued horses have not had their hooves cared for in some time. But others may give subtle clues about the horse's past and the owner's attempts to care for it or to correct a problem. (Image © World Horse Welfare)

Many horses are quickly and cheaply shod to go through an auction. New shoes, even if they don’t fit, increase the perceived value of a horse when the potential buyer doesn’t know the difference. Auctioneers will often comment on the fact the horse is freshly shod and that it will save the new owner some money. On the other hand, pads can be nailed onto a horse going through an auction so that thrush or a stretched white line from chronic laminitis will be hidden.

Likewise, farriers will quickly notice if someone attempted to trim the hooves and left them ragged and unrasped, or if an old rasp was used. Professionals will be able to see that someone tried to help a horse–or if the attempt to trim or shoe a horse by an untrained person actually was a detriment to the animal’s condition.

Farriers also have signature shoeing styles. They recognized each other’s work by very subtle variations in nailing patterns, shoe brand used or how the clinches are secured. In some cases, the fact that a horse was not shod by a local farrier is important information.

It might be valuable information to authorities to know an approximate date of the last hoof maintenance, or to know whether expensive or handmade shoes were still on the horse or if the shoes nailed on were “right out of the box” and unshaped or unfinished, giving clues that the work was not done by a professional.

A farrier can tell you if a horse has been ridden or used a lot (or not), if it lives on soft ground or, based on hoof growth rates, when a ring on a hoof wall may have first appeared–or if telltale hoof rings have been rasped or sanded in an attempt to give the illusion of a smooth hoof wall.

In some cases, horses that show up in the care of authorities may actually have been shod by professionals who will easily recognize their own shoes. That’s what happened in 2008, when the farrier team of Laura Felder and Kyle Deaver came forward and gave a positive ID of an abandoned horse in Oregon that was wearing their shoes.

Toe-in conformation

A farrier or hoof trimmer might recognize a horse with a conformational problem. (Nottingham Vet School image)

In the Oregon case, not only were Laura and Kyle able to ID the horse–they had photographic records to prove that they had shod the horse, when they had shod it, and who owned the horse at the time. Most importantly, their photographic records showed the condition of the horse on the date they had last shod it. This is especially important for horses that have been sold or changed caregivers in the meantime.

In one of the most fascinating hoof forensics cases of all time, the FBI, the Secret Service and the New York Police Department tracked down the infamous Wall Street Bomber of 1921 by the fact that all that survived after the explosion of the suicide-bomber cart horse was its hooves and shoes. They had a lot to learn about horseshoes, but learn they did. Unique union identification stampings on the shoes were traced to a specific farrier shop in Manhattan and led to the arrest of the anarchist suspects.

Animal welfare officers and rescue organizations may not think to query local farriers and vets when trying to identify an abandoned horse or to obtain records on a horse in their care. But chances are that someone, somewhere knows that horse by its hooves or its conformational quirks.

Hoof forensics is far from an exact science and it has many stumbling points, including that farriers and veterinarians may be understandably reticent to become involved in welfare cases that involve legal proceedings.

But for some horses, it can be a lifesaving clue that will not only help their treatment and recovery but, in the case of prosecution for animal cruelty, possibly prevent the abuse of other horses.

At the very least, how to search for hoof-related clues can be easily taught and shared among horsecare professionals so that they can efficiently assist horses in need.

Do you have a story about how hoof-related information was used to help abandoned or rescued horses? Hoofcare Publishing in Massachusetts is compiling an archive of both documented cases and anecdotes from horsecare professionals, horse rescue organizations, legal professionals and law enforcement authorities. The goal is to both educate and to encourage those who can to share their knowledge what only they can “read” in a horse’s hooves and legs.

To share your story, send an email to Hoofcare Publishing. Your small effort to share what you know can help horses.

Contents of this blog © Fran Jurga and The Equine Network. No reproduction without permission. Magnifying glass photo: Arild Nybø, mediebruket.no (Thanks!)

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High Park Fire: Colorado State Veterinarians and Students Caring for Displaced Horses at Evacuation Center

High Park Fire

The High Park Fire in the foothills west of Fort Collins, Colorado has been a disaster of massive propotions for both domestic and wild animals, as well as humans.

You can see the fire  from the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, north of Denver. While the campus is not considered to be in danger, the impact of a disaster so closeby is immense. A group from the University are on site at the large animal rescue and evacuation facility created in the Ranch-Way Feeds Livestock Pavilions at The Ranch events complex to provide healthcare services to animals in need. CSU has helped prepare a report on what is going on:

Veterinarians and students from Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital are spending the week at The Ranch in Loveland caring for several hundred animals displaced by the High Park Fire.

The services provided are at no charge to the owners of the large animals who have been evacuated by the large wildfire west of Fort Collins, said Dr. Brian Miller, who is the “James Herriott” of the teaching hospital as director of Equine Field Services.

Miller has been working with  Dr. Brittney Bell, Kim Ellis, who is the head equine nurse at the hospital, and four senior veterinary students; together, they have spent 11-hour days checking on animals that come into The Ranch. They initiated the visits through Ellis’ friend Gina Gonzales, a firefighter with Loveland Fire and Rescue and co-president of the Larimer County Technical Emergency Animal Rescue, or TEAR, Team.

The Ranch is the designated evacuation area for large animals who have been displaced by the fire.

“Gina and I are good friends, and I’ve been going through her because of the incident command protocol. We both felt we needed to get veterinary support out there as the horses were coming in,” Ellis said.

High Park Fire Smoke at Colorado State University

Smoke from the High Park Fire obscures the sun at The Oval on the campus of Colorado State University. The fire is in the foothills west of Fort Collins, where the university is located. (CSU photo)

So far, they’ve examined about 150 horses, 150 alpacas and llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats and calves.

“We’re doing physical exams, health checks and treating anything we’ve seen that needed attention,” Miller said. “At this point, just some minor smoke inhalation and dehydration from lack of water, some abrasions and a few cuts.”

Firefighters Housed at Colorado State University

Staff and students headed toward the fire to help animals pass firefighters headed toward the campus, where they are being fed and housed. (CSU photo)

Moving forward, he expects new animals brought to the shelter by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Posse will likely need more attention.

“There’s a large number that did not have time to get out,” Miller said. “There’s still plenty of animals up there that have been without water for several days.”

People are sharing stories about animals coming directly to rescuers when they meet them at the fire site, Ellis said.

“Two companion donkeys came in, and after talking to a neighbor who knows them, he is convinced the one dominant donkey kept the group of two donkeys and four draft horses safe,” Ellis said. “One of the volunteer haulers who brought this group in told me this herd was standing in a lush green meadow, and when they arrived, the lead donkey with singed whiskers walked up to him and laid his head into his chest.

“The few owners that I did meet and see reunited with their animals were very grateful for the immediate care and assessment as they were coming off of the trailers by the team,” Ellis said. “What we do for the animals and see in their eyes – that’s enough for me.”

CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital Equine Services accepts donations for the program at https://advancing.colostate.edu/cvmbs*53943.

Information on animal rescue and evacuation is being handled by Larimer County Humane Society.

To Learn More:

Help Colorado Now is a central information site for volunteers and donations.

Colorado Daily looks inside the evacuation center for horses at Larimer: Defenseless animals find safety from High Park fire

The Ranch has a blog with current news about donations needed

The fantastic panorama of smoke at the top of the page is by David Kingham; other photos via Colorado State University (thanks!).

jumping-foal-713469 by Fran Jurga
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Pollard Eventing Trailer Tragedy Grows As Third Horse Dies From Injuries: Jude’s Law Euthanized

I get a lot of press releases. They come in the mail, by email, by fax. I try to read them all.

Some come from horse sports publicist Chris Stafford in Kentucky. They’re usually good news: one of the riders she represents might be announcing a new sponsor. Client Heather Blitz, the highly-ranked dressage rider, may have done something incredible (again). Client Marilyn Little-Meredith is setting the eventing world on fire–and might even be headed to London for the Olympics. That’s the kind of news I expect from Chris Stafford.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and I really wasn’t expecting press releases from anyone.

And I wouldn’t be expecting to see Chris Stafford in the incoming email once, let alone three times.

And none of the news has been good.

As you have probably read, Michael and Nathalie Pollard of Pollard Eventing in Georgia have had a terrible tragedy. Six of their horses were in a trailer wreck on Friday morning near their training center. One horse, the warmblood stallion VDL Ulando H, did not survive the wreck.

A second horse, the stunning gray Thoroughbred eventer Icarus, was euthanized the following day at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky after his severed hind leg ligament injury was appraised. (See earlier story on The Jurga Report.)

Tonight, the news is bad again. A third horse, Jude’s Law, was transported to Rood and Riddle from Georgia. The Rood and Riddle veterinary team, led by sport-horse specialist Dr. Chris Newton, admitted Jude immediately for surgery, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured cecum, a portion of the horse’s large intestine.

Dr. Newton also worked on Icarus on Saturday. On Friday, Rood and Riddle’s Facebook page estimated that it had been the clinic’s busiest day–ever.

YouTube Preview Image

This description of the horse’s digestive tract is from the Glass Horse: Horse Owner’s Guide to Colic
from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; it describes the location of the cecum.

“This is a nightmare that I can’t seem to wake up from. This horse was so special to me and yet at the moment I just feel numb. He looked like he was going to be fine in a few weeks. I am absolutely crushed,” was Michael Pollard’s comment in the press release.

About Jude’s Law

Jude’s Law was owned by Michael Pollard & John Bryant. The 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding joined the Pollard Eventing Team in July 2011. He competed at the Advanced level with his previous rider, Beth Temkin, including at the Rebecca Farm CIC***. He was formerly owned by Hilary Bates, who rode him at Training Level.

Under Michael Pollard, he was runner up at the Richland Park CIC 2* in 2011.

This season Jude’s Law won the Pine Top Spring Advanced Horse Trials and the Southern Pines Advanced Horse Trials before going to Jersey Fresh earlier this month to finish runner up in the CCI3* there.

Jude’s Law was one of 20 horses still in contention to represent the United States in eventing at the 2012 London Olympic Games and was the ranked third in the nation by the US Eventing Association (USEA) through the first half of this year.

The aftermath: what comes from this?

The top ranks of US eventing are gutted by the loss of stars like Icarus and Jude’s Law. But more than that, every horse owner’s heart aches for the loss of horses under painful, stressful circumstances. This isn’t supposed to happen to any of us, and yet it does. A horse trailer can be a death trap for a horse on the highway. Not enough is said about trailer safety, although this accident was not the fault of the driver.

That said, just as a spotlight has been put upon riders to wear helmets for safety, we need to be reminding horse owners and transporters that when they take a horse on the highway, they are taking those horses’ lives in their hands.  But much more than that, we need to educate the public–those other guys on the road–that a horse trailer is a vulnerable conveyance, and that slamming on the brakes is a dangerous option.

Did you ever wonder what an equestrian’s publicist does?

I’m sure many professional riders and horse breeders think they don’t need the services of a publicist. The retainer might be expensive. The clippings from press releases might be meager.

But Pollard Eventing found out this weekend what a publicist does. They share your news, and keep the world–through people like me–informed. It’s someone to keep on your speed dial. It’s someone riders hope they will never need to tell a story like Pollard Eventing’s tragic weekend. It’s someone who does their job for you, whether you’re having your greatest day, or your worst. They are needed for both possibilities. Sometimes they’re needed in the middle of the night. Sometimes they’re needed halfway around the world.

Sometimes they’re just needed.

To learn more:

Trailer Wreck in Georgia Kills Two Horses from Pollard Eventing, Four Others Injured

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Trailer Wreck in Georgia Kills Two Horses from Pollard Eventing, Four Others Injured

Michael Pollard holding two gray event horses

Eventing star Michael Pollard holding Schoensgreen Hanni and Icarus at a vet check. Both horses were involved in a trailer wreck in Georgia on Friday, in which Michael's new ride, a stallion owned by Ruth Armstrong, was killed. Icarus, shown here on the right, was later euthanized. Photo courtesy of Chris Stafford.

Pan American Games Eventing Team Gold Medalist Michael Pollard‘s international event horses were involved in a road traffic accident just five miles from his training center in Dalton, Georgia on Friday morning.

According to a press release sent on behalf of the rider, the horse trailer in which they were riding turned over, trapping all six horses on board.

Five horses were cut free and survived with lacerations but, tragically, Michael’s new ride, the stallion VDL Ulando H, died at the scene as a result of head and neck trauma. Five other horses, mostly event horses, sustained lacerations of varying severity. The most seriously injured was Icarus, who was transported the next day to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky, where he was euthanized.

No humans were injured in the accident which was caused by the driver of another vehicle pulling out in front of them without seeing the trailer.

Michael was not at home at the time. The horses were being driven by his groom, and according to police at the scene, there was nothing that could have been done to avoid the oncoming vehicle.

Pollard had just acquired the ride on the stallion that was killed. He has enjoyed great success this spring at the upper levels, including last week’s competition at Chattahoochee Hills CIC and Horse Trials in Georgia.

event stallion under saddle

Event horse VDL Ulando H, owned by Ruth Armstrong, was killed in the crash. (photo via Pollard Eventing Facebook page)

On Saturday morning, the injured horses are all in various stages of recovery at the Pollard Eventing Training Center in Dalton, GA.

The 14-year-old grey Thoroughbred gelding Icarus, owned by Michael and Nathalie Pollard, suffered a severed ligament and deep lacerations surrounding his right hind fetlock joint.

Following intensive treatment at home, Icarus was shipped to Rood and Riddle for surgery. Despite every effort by Dr. Chris Newton and his team, the extent of injuries presented no other option but to prevent the horse further pain.  Michael Pollard was with Icarus; he drove the horse to Lexington.

“Fly” to those who knew him, Icarus came to the team in 2009 as a Preliminary horse and successfully ascended to Advanced with Nathalie. Some of his many notable achievements include winning the 2009 Jersey Fresh CCI***, the Zeppa International Trophy, a 19th place finish at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, and a Land Rover High Performance Grant to compete at 2011 Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trial in England. Fly also competed at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event last month.

In mythology, Icarus was a boy who could “fly”; however, his wings were made of wax and melted when he flew too close to the sun.

Schoensgreen Hanni (Hanni), a nine-year-old German Warmblood mare owned by Nathalie Pollard, suffered some superficial cuts but is not expected to miss any work in her preparation for Bromont CCI3* June 8-10th in Canada. The mare won the Advanced A division of The Fork Horse Trials in Norwood, NC in April and was Pollard’s mount in the Pan Am Games.

Jude’s Law (Jude), 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse Gelding owned by Michael Pollard and John Bryant, has minor cuts that required stitching but should be able to return to work in a few weeks. The horse won the Southern Pines Advanced-A Horse Trials in North Carolina in March with Pollard.

Carl Bouckaert’s Raphael, who won the Chattahoochee Hills Open Preliminary division last week, survived with just some bruising and will be given time to recover from the shock before returning to work.

Little Star, a brood mare, suffered cuts to her hind legs and is expected to make a full recovery.

Biographies of some of the horses are available on the Pollard Eventing web site. Photos of some may be seen on the Pollard Eventing Facebook page.

The horse industry feels the pain of Ruth Armstrong, her family and connections on the loss of the stallion VDL Ulando H who died at the scene as a result of head and neck trauma. “He was the love of my life, an athlete and a gentleman and deserves a good send off,” said Ruth of her 11-year-old Dutch-bred Canadian Warmblood registered and approved stallion (Corland x Fanietta – Ahorn).

Michael and Nathalie Pollard expressed their grief over the loss of Fly in a press release on Sunday morning:  “He was the best horse in the world who just never quite made it — mostly my fault, and certainly not his. He brought me out of relative obscurity. He was just a special soul and everyone that worked with him felt the same. He was a family member and it will not be the same without him in the barn,” Michael commented.

Nathalie added, “My heart is really broken. I have loved this horse since the day I laid eyes on him eight years ago at the Kentucky Horse Park.  (Fly) was stunning, and radiated beauty from the inside out.  He was an exceptional athlete who never once quit or let us down. He was a good man with a heart of gold. He was my friend, and his absence will be felt painfully for some time.”

Portions of this article originally appeared on Fran Jurga’s Discover London Olympics blog on discoverhorses.com; thanks to publicist Chris Stafford for her photo and original press release.

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