British dressage rider Anne-Marie Perry has lost her much-admired grand prix horse Feine Dame.

The 13-year-old mare suffered a “complete mechanical failure” of the near fore hoof, which led to laminitis and the rotational of the pedal bone through the sole of her hoof. The horse last competed in September 2014.

“It’s been such a devastating time, we haven’t known what to do with ourselves,” Hartlepool-based Annie told H&H.

“It was a long and drawn-out story. We’ve had some of the best vets in the world looking at her case, but there was nothing else anybody could do.”

The mare was put down a month ago, but Annie has only recently been able to talk about it.

“She lived outside my bedroom window and was the first thing I saw in the mornings, so this has been really tough.”

The Fibonacci x Acapulco daughter arrived from Germany as a youngster and together the pair reached grand prix, competing at the national championships at the level last year.

“I put nine years’ work into her and just got to grand prix last year — my first nationals at grand prix. She was my top horse, but also my best friend.”

Things hadn’t always been plain sailing.

When Feine Dame arrived at Annie’s yard, aged four, she refused to get off the lorry.

“The transport guys were pushing and shoving, but she wouldn’t budge,” recalled Annie.

“Eventually, we had to reverse her off, as if from a trailer. I knew then that she was special and that we would bond.

“She was the trickiest horse to ever pass through my hands; a real red-headed lady. Lots of people said she was too sharp and unpredictable for grand prix but, against all the odds, we did it.

“She would have excelled at the level and the world would have been our oyster, but it wasn’t to be.

“In the end, we were all in agreement that we had to do the right thing for our horse and not allow her to suffer; to see her in so much pain was more heartbreaking. Now I can look back and be thankful for all the wonderful rides she gave me.”

Annie is now without a top horse — though she is “keeping her eyes open” — and has two smart youngsters waiting in the wings at home.

“I’m getting married this year [to Phil Cowan on 6 June] so I was strict with myself and sold a lot of horses as I wanted to concentrate on grand prix with Feine Dame and getting married. That rug’s now been pulled from under my feet.”