Sophie Wells’ dressage blog: the lows and the lows

  • After every high there seems to be a massive low and unfortunately so far this month we have hit a real low.

    Tango, who is a 9-year-old that I bought nearly 4 years ago with Rio in mind, has been somewhat tricky with his brain since he arrived. It’s taken a long time to get him ready to compete, but in May we finally reached that point. We were all ready to take him out and do a couple of mediums, and with him training at prix st georges level at home, he was finding the work required in medium very easy.

    He has always been super talented and, as I said, training his brain has always been the problem. However the day before the competition, he went intermittently lame. Over the summer he didn’t come right, so we ended up going for investigations at Oakham, and the MRI scans confirmed our fears of navicular and coffin joint disease in his front feet.

    We are absolutely gutted, after the patience, time, hard work and money over all that time to get him right in the head, and then his body let him down. He’s now gone to a groom of ours to have an easier life and a bit of fun.

    Yet more bad news

    And that wasn’t all, if anyone has followed my journey, they will know Touchy (Touchdown M) is a massive part of it. He was my Hong Kong 2008 horse who went lame in quarantine and we found a tumor in the hoof just 8 months after getting him.

    He was operated on and half his hoof was removed. After months of re-hab, he came back to work the following year sound for the first couple of months, then going lame, with an MRI showing either the tumour having grown back or scar tissue. Either way, it wasn’t good news, and as the success rate is very low, we decided we couldn’t put him through that again. So he retired, only aged 8, with his last competition winning the nationals in September 2008.

    Then earlier this year I moved him over from my parents’ place to my trainer Angela Weiss’ yard to have a little play and potentially come back into work as he was looking good in the field and missed the attention. I was a bit reluctant, only because he was a horse of a lifetime and I didn’t want that disappointment again.

    Anyway he came back into work really well — he loves working and was an absolute angel after 4 years off.  He gave the most incredible feeling cantering around, as if he’d done it every day for the last 4 years, completely round and through. This made it even more gutting when — to cut a long story short — he had a run around the field, and has ended up with a hole in his superficial tendon.

    I’m not a very emotional person, but I probably cried for 3 days and just can’t believe it. It just seems we are really not destined to be together, which is so upsetting when he is so talented but most of all just wants to do it. It breaks my heart to see him in pain again, as with any horse.

    I hope my next blog will make lighter reading.


    Twitter: @sophiewells90

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