Olympic ‘horse of a lifetime’ dies aged 25

  • Former British Olympic team horse Active Walero has died aged 25.

    Bought by Active Equestrian Ltd, run by Fiona James, in 2001, Walero enjoyed international success with British rider Nicola McGivern.

    He was put down on Friday (26 February).

    “He had just grown old and gave up — he decided he’d had enough,” Ms James told H&H.

    “Up until two weeks ago he was passaging in and out of the field.”

    Nicola and Walero were on the bronze medal-winning team at the 2003 FEI European Dressage Championships, held at Hickstead.

    The combination also competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

    Ms James bought the horse through Norbert van Laak, in Germany, and said she had trawled through “thousands” before she found Walero.

    “I can still remember the first time I saw him passage — I can even remember that Shakira was playing at the time,” she said.

    “He was a really special horse – a horse of a lifetime and he has given me so many memories.”

    Walero’s top-level dressage career spanned almost 15 years.

    Susie Coleridge Smith took over the ride from Nicola and the pair competed at the young rider European Championships at Kronberg in 2010.

    “Latterly we tried to retire him but he didn’t want to, so we brought him back into work and Bobby Hayler rode him,” added Ms James.

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    The combination qualified for the 2012 young rider Europeans in Berne.

    Bobby added Walero showed everyone how pleased he was to be there by “squealing his way down the centre line”.

    Walero was retired in 2013 and lived out his days at DH Equestrian in Buckinghamshire.

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