William Fox-Pitt’s London 2012 eventer Lionheart has been put down after colic surgery.
The Olympic team silver medal-winning gelding was sold to America in November to be ridden by US eventer Allison Springer, who is based in Florida for the winter eventing season.
The 12-year-old Westphalian gelding, by Lancer III, was taken to Palm Beach Equine Medical Centre last Monday (13 January) showing signs of colic.
The first operation appeared to have been successful, but Lionheart died from complications following a second colic surgery on Saturday (18 January).
A statement from Allison said that “a vascular accident had occurred in the colon and both the small and large intestines were irreparably damaged“.
She added: “This was one of the most challenging and heartbreaking weeks of my life.
“Lionheart dealt with this as the true champion he was, never giving up. In the end, when the time came and there were no more options. I’m very appreciative of the tremendous veterinary effort made to save Lionheart.”
Lionheart was bought from Jeremy and Judy Skinner by the Team Lionheart Syndicate LLC and Allison had been looking forwward to competing him this season.
As well as winning Olympic silver, William and Lionheart were competitive in a number of top events, finishing 4th at Luhmuhlen CCI4* last year.
A statement from William Fox-Pitt read: “Lionheart was such a special and gentle horse and was very dear to those that knew him, both as a superb event horse and a character at home.
“Allison was forming a fantastic partnership with him, so the sadness of not fulfilling her dreams must be unbearable.
“I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed riding him for 7 years, he helped me realise my ambition of riding at the London Olympics, and I wish Team Lion all the best as they cope with this horrendous blow.”