Happy New Year everyone — well it’s a new year anyway! I can’t say it has started in the best way if I’m absolutely honest. But I do hope that you had a good Christmas, and a happy start to the new year.
We had a tragic start to the year — a very special horse had to be put to sleep after shattering the pastern in his near hind. As you may have followed during 2014, para dressage rider Emma Sheardown, who is based with us, bought a new young horse, Essentially Beowulf (Wolf) at the end of 2013.
He was only six when purchased, and needed a lot of work to bring him on, take him out and educate him enough for Emma to campaign him towards Rio. It took a long time to find a horse with a good enough walk and quality, plsu an excellent temperament as well. Although Wolf had no experience, he ticked the other boxes.
Over the year he was a pleasure to work with, he tried his best all the time, always wanted to learn and work, and had such a kind heart. I had the pleasure of taking him to his first shows, to compete and to train.
He went very quickly from a wobbly prelim horse to one training at advanced medium, with huge clean changes and strengthening lateral work. He achieved up to 78% at elementary, although it had to be HC due to my rider grouping.
I’m honoured to have witnessed the relationship that Emma and Wolf built together. Emma has cerebral palsy, which effects her balance and co-ordination and Wolf was the first horse she had been with that would allow her to catch him in the stable, put a head collar and a bridle on, groom him and put his boots on.
I will always remember the day everyone was in the tack room and I could hear the sound of hooves. We all looked at each other as if to head count, thinking there was a loose horse. I jumped out the tack room only to see Emma leading Wolf, wobbly but slowly, down the stable block with the biggest smile on her face, as Wolf calculated every step and where his body was compared to hers.
It sounds so daft, but he literally made her dreams come true. The simple things that we take for granted, Emma had dreamt of doing. Wolf made it happen. My only hope was that he would make her Paralympic dream come true too.
I loved the horse like I love mine, so I can only imagine the pain Emma is going through, trying to come to terms with it. I try to believe that things happen for a reason, just like myself losing Touchdown with the keratoma and therefore finding Pinocchio.
I hope round the corner is Emma’s very own Pinocchio, that will carry Wolf’s spirit through and together they can make Emma’s Paralympic dreams come true, because having worked with her for three years now, and seeing how hard she works — I know she deserves it!
It really does bring it home that our horses are not just our work mates or dancing partners, but our friends, and in a lot of cases, soul mates! People that don’t have horses will not understand, but those who do will! We literally love our animals to the moon and back.
I hope my next instalment is a little more cheery. For everyone who has sent their condolences, myself and Emma are very grateful.
RIP and dance well up there little Wolf xx