Tales from Somerford: ‘The vet said that if the melanoma had been any bigger, he would have been in trouble’

  • Heather White made her Lemieux National Dressage Championships debut at Somerford Park Farm, Cheshire with her pure-bred Irish draught gelding Hawklands Echo. They scored 64.4% in the Andrews Bowen advanced medium silver championship exactly seven years to the day from when she rang to find out more about a three-year-old gelding for sale.

    “I had a lovely three-quarter Irish draught mare who was on the point of retiring and I was looking for a three-year-old chestnut filly when I had a phone call from Rita Jennings, who stands Echo’s sire Avanti Amorous Archie, telling me about this youngster,” said Heather, who has brought Echo up the levels with the help of Claire Ballantyne. “I fixed to go and see him in Bude in Cornwall. I live quite close to Somerford so it was an overnight stay, but I looked at him twice and bought him.”

    Heather White and Hawklands Echo at the National Dressage Championships

    Heather White and Hawklands Echo at the 2021 National Dressage Championships

    In fact, the horse is lucky to have made it as far as the National Dressage Championships, as Heather explained: “Last July he’d started to lose a bit of performance and I was struggling with his lateral work. I’d worked him and he’d been a bit average, and as I was washing him down between his hindlegs I noticed he looked a bit lopsided so I rang my physio. Luckily I managed to get him seen straight away and she said to get him to the vet.

    “He was scanned, referred to Leahurst Equine Hospital and they operated a few days later. Professor Archer removed a 1kg melanoma from his groin and said that if it had been any bigger he would have been in trouble. Echo had eight weeks off, then eight weeks of physio with Gabby Kerfoot, and he’s come back better than ever.”

    Heather added: “We started the test with some unwanted tempi changes, but he was brilliant. He’s my horse of a lifetime!”

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