Rio gold medallist horse dies of bacterial infection

  • Natasha Baker’s Rio Paralympic Games horse Cabral (JP) has been put down. The 16-year-old Polish-bred dark bay gelding suffered a small cut while grazing in the field at home on Wednesday (22 February) and was subsequently put down on yesterday morning (26 February) after developing a bacterial infection.

    The vet was called to what seemed like a fairly minor wound, and the horse was monitored closely. However, on Saturday he was taken into the clinic and found to have contracted clostridia bacterial infection, which proved to be fatal.

    Natasha is “stunned by the sudden death”.

    “I’m writing this with a totally broken heart,” Natasha said. “This weekend I suddenly lost my soul mate, my best friend and my dancing partner. JP was a horse like no other, a true legend. He was discovered by fluke and I instantly knew he was ‘the one’. He made my dreams come true over and over again. We’ve had the best journey together and he has given me memories I will treasure forever. I cannot thank him enough.

    “JP gave me his heart and together we took on the world. 11 gold medals, Paralympic records, endless national and international titles, we defied the odds and he gave me absolutely everything he had. He had the kindest soul and his heart was made of gold.”

    Natasha Baker riding Cabral at the Rio Olympics

    JP was born in 2001 and owned by top international dressage judge, trainer and rider Christian Landolt, as well as Natasha’s parents Phil and Lorraine Baker. Natasha started working with JP in 2009. The pair formed a strong bond and shot to prominence in 2011, where they scooped double European gold. The Europeans proved a happy hunting ground as they were again undefeated in 2013.

    They went on to claim a total of five European Championship golds, a gold and silver World Championship medal and five Paralympic gold medals — as well as two Paralympic records in front of their home crowd at London 2012.

    JP carried Natasha to triple gold at the Rio Olympics in September 2016, winning both individual medals available in her grade, as well as team gold. They also dominated their grade II category at London 2012, though were not on the team.

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