Dressage rider Beverley Brightman has paid tribute to her “wonderful horse of a lifetime”, who has died aged 30.

Arlequin (“Tom”) completed 59 grands prix throughout Europe in his remarkable career.

The eye-catching grey Hanoverian gelding was bought by Beverley as a nine-year-old and there was little indication he would become such a successful horse.

“It was right at the beginning of my dressage career and I knew nothing,” Beverley told H&H. “He was spooky and grumpy and I think I bought him because he was cute. It was fluke.

“He hated dressage at the start, he was an introvert and couldn’t get 60% in a medium.”

Beverley Brightman and Arlequin.

Tom came down with a serious virus and was left paralysed in his stable. It took a month for him to fully regain his movement, after which Beverley started him from scratch.

“It took six months to rehabilitate him, but it was actually the making of him,” she said.

Since then the pair went from strength to strength. Taught by David Trott and then Ellen Bontje, they “whizzed” from medium to grand prix in just two and a half years.

Beverley and Tom were also placed at the national championships every year and at every level, as well as being placed 10th in the trial for the Athens Olympics.

Tom acted as a schoolmaster for three riders when Beverley stopped competing him to great success. Four years ago he was retired to the field alongside his much-loved field mate, 35-year-old pony Mini Mouse.

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Tom was involved in a freak field accident on Sunday (25 March) where he became trapped under a fence when rolling and broke his leg.

A vet was called and Tom was put to sleep when they realised the extent of his injuries.

Beverley was devastated her star horse had died in such a manner, who retired sound after his long career.“I’m absolutely gutted we lost him this way,” said Beverley. “We were going to have a 30th birthday party for him next month.

“He spanned my entire career. He was such a character and could be quite a tyrant. Most grooms had been chased out of his stable if he was eating. But once you got a headcollar on him he was so easy and he travelled all over Europe and it took nothing out of him.

“I never found another horse like him.”

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