Working hunter specialist Louise Bell has suffered a further blow when Rock Star had to be destroyed — the third horse she has lost this year.
The 10-year-old home-bred had come in from the field lame just before Louise had gone to Dublin.
“I thought he might be foot sore,” said Louise. “We had shoes put on and I rode him and he seemed OK. He wasn’t 100 per cent so I put him on bute for a couple of days.”
However, subsequent X-rays showed joint damage.
“He’d had a tiny fetlock fracture when he was six,” Louise explained. “He’d recovered, but the bone had calcified. The only thing to do was put him down, as he couldn’t walk.”
Earlier this year, Louise lost Man On Fire and Out of Sight, but the loss of Rock Star was harder to deal with: “Because I bred him, I felt like I was the only one who really understood him. He was like a child to me.”
The grey had won his heavyweight class and stood reserve hunter at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2005 as a five-year-old, but was unable to compete at Birmingham the following year because of the fetlock injury.
“He had nothing else to prove,” said Louise. “I thought I could maybe medicate him and hunt him, because he wasn’t the sort of horse to be turned out in the field. He was a character; a total professional in the showring, but he didn’t suffer fools gladly in the stable. He was never an easy horse and it wouldn’t have been fair to keep him going.”
The third loss in a year — swiftly following the sudden death of the 2008 working hunter of the year Out Of Sight in August 2009 — is devastating, but Louise is determined to be upbeat.
“It seems like I’ve been really unlucky,” she said, “but you know what? That’s what happens with horses. It’s just that with me, it was like boom, boom, boom, one after the other.”
Her new project is a roan four-year-old, bred by John Whitaker.
“His stable name is Dynamo,” she said. “He’s out of Man On Fire’s full-sister, and he’s keeping me going.”