Road to RIHS: ‘He was due to be put down’ — show pony with EMS defies odds en-route to Hickstead ticket

Ella Dunn was ecstatic when her 14.2hh show pony gelding Abbas Blue Rainbow (Dancer) was called forward to take his Royal Internation Horse Show ticket at Ayr County Show. Especially considering that a year ago, the young rider believed her beloved pony would never step foot in the show ring again.

Dundee-based Ella has owned Dancer for four years and has enjoyed a successful career with him. However, half way through last season Dancer, now aged 16, went lame.

“The vets originally though he had Cushings,” says Ella. “He had bloods taken and it revealed that he had Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS).

“They were really stuck on what to do as there hadn’t been a case of EMS in our area for years, and as Dancer wasn’t at all fat, there was no weight to strip off him.

“Initially, he wouldn’t eat and would just lie down in his stable. We had to stay with him all day and take him water. We’d get him up for a bit and walk him outside to stretch his legs, but then he’d be straight back down again.  We got to the point where we believed it would be kinder to put him to sleep.”

The day before Dancer was due to be put down, Ella turned him out in the field where the gelding proceeded to buck and run around.

Ella continued: “We just couldn’t do it. It was like he knew what was going to happen and he was trying to tell us that he was fine.”

Fast forward a year, and Dancer was back on track.

“We’d managed to get him healthy and his weight back to an acceptable level. We decided to go to Ayr just for a day out. He placed third in his first two classes under two judges, his conformation marks just costing him. In the qualifier, the two judges were swapped around.

“I was in tears when we were called out into first. The conformation judge was actually a veteran judge and she commented on how good his limbs were for an older pony.”

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It will take Ella and Dancer 10 hours to get to Hickstead from their Scottish base.

Ella concludes: “It really means the world to still have him around and to have the opportunity to compete at one of the best shows out there is just incredible.”

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