Tales from Somerford: ‘I found him flat out on the floor – I thought he was dead’

  • “We didn’t quite hit our best, but to even be here is a win,” said Julie Payne after winning the Niagara Equissage grade II para final at the Lemieux National Dressage Championships with Divinity. 

    A couple of months ago the eight-year-old Don Frederico gelding was at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic with a mystery bacterial infection.

    “I found him in his stable flat out on the floor – I thought he was dead,” explained Julie. “He didn’t move when I took his temperature, which was 42 degrees Celsius. We got him to the vets and they initially thought it was peritonitis. He was there a week, came home and then had to be rushed back for more IV antibiotics as he relapsed.” 

    Thankfully, Divinity pulled through and has made it to the National Dressage Championships, where he and Julie scored 67.01% to triumph. 

    “He’s had to step up to the plate earlier than I expected as my mare retired,” explained Julie, who has had the gelding for two years. “I was looking for a replacement, but with limited funds I was getting nowhere. I heard of one near Waregem, Belgium, when I was competing there, and then one was flagged up to me back in the UK in the south.

    “Even driving there I was thinking, ‘I’m going to look at a horse I can’t afford’. I organised the vetting with the same thoughts, and we’d already looked at getting a loan. Then on the morning when I had to make a decision, I had two phone calls from people offering funds, and in the end my long-time friend Cornelia Cook stepped in and bought him for me.”

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