Tales from Hartpury: ‘Literally within two weeks of his win he was fighting for his life…’

  • After qualifying for the winter championships, Suzanne Smith’s world came crashing down when her horse Alfie (In The Limelight I) contracted a deadly disease.

    10-year-old Alfie is out out of Suzanne’s old 15.2hh mare and she will be competing him in the Petplan Bronze Preliminary Area Festival Championship at Hartpury (3 — 7 April).

    “I wanted to breed something as good as I could for what I could afford,” says Suzanne. “I used the stallion T-Movie who was standing with Carl Hester. Alfie then took over from mare as my one in a million horse.

    “Last year, we joined BD and started competing in some My Quest competitions. We tried some Petplan qualifiers with reasonable success. After some lessons and time spent on training, we won the My Quest championship in October last year and then the following day we won the second round of our regional finals to qualify for Hartpury, with a score of 75%. I was delighted.”

    About two weeks after his victory, Suzanne noticed that Alfie had gone off his food and looked under the weather:

    She continues: “He was grinding his teeth and also had a fever. I called the vet and the following day he was taken to the equine hospital for some tests. This was on the Friday; by Sunday, he could not walk in a straight line. Literally within two weeks of his win he was fighting for his life.

    “It took the vets ages to diagnose what was wrong. He had all sorts of tests. Eventually, they found that he had contacted equine Parvovirus and had secondary bacterial hepatitis. He also had an impaired liver function as a result.

    “As tests for equine Parvovirus only came out last May, he was one of the first horses to be diagnosed with it.

    “He was then put on medication and steroids for two months.

    “We’ve only been out twice since his recovery. On first outing he stepped up to novice for the first time and stood first and second, getting his Petplan novice bronze qualifying scores. He has a heart of gold and is such a mummy’s boy. He has been such a trooper.

    “It has been a roller-coaster ride for us both, especially due to the uncertain diagnosis at the beginning.

    “I can suffer with pre-competition nerves but just to get to nationals is amazing.”


    Horse & Hound has three reporters on the ground at Hartpury; don’t miss the 11 April issue for 12 pages of reports from the NAF Five Star Winter Dressage Championships and the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, and keep up to date with action as it happens here on HorseandHound.co.uk

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