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‘He never failed you’: farewell to British Olympic horse

British Olympic dressage horse Enfant has died, at the age of 34.

The 16hh KWPN chestnut gelding, who was by Ubis out of Vleuni, was the ride of Vicki Thompson-Winfield from 1991 to 1996, culminating in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where they represented Britain alongside Richard Davison, Joanna Jackson and Jane Bredin.

“The Olympics was only his sixth test!” Vicki told H&H. “But he was always super quick and on the button. He was very active and always learnt quickly. But if he didn’t want to do something, nothing on this planet could make him. He always had his own agenda.

“He was bought for only about £4,000 by his then-owner Elaine Smith. His legs seemed to go in all different directions and his conformation was something else, but he was really sweet, and hot, and never failed you.”

In 1995 Vicki and “Impy” teamed up with Carl Hester and Gershwin to win the pas de deux at the European Championships in Mondorf-le-Bains, Luxembourg.

“It was a super good test and Impy was so excited on his way out of the arena that his passage just kept getting bigger and bigger until he lost his balance and basically sat down,” said Vicki. “I was slipping backwards and Carl shouted, ‘Don’t let your feet touch the ground or we’ll be eliminated!’ Luckily I was able to get him going again.”

After Atlanta, Enfant was competed successfully at prix st georges (PSG) and young rider level by Polly Anna Hodges, before being sold to Rosie Moreton-Deakin in 2003.

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“Impy was found for me by Carl when I was still in young riders and he went on to be my first grand prix horse. He was amazing, a really clever little horse – at barely 16hh he was the original pocket rocket,” Rosie told H&H.

“He was always rather wild but in a fun way, though you really had to hold on to your hat in a prize-giving. Riding him was always like sitting in a little sports car.”

Enfant was retired at the age of 20, and has been “lording it up at home, eating all the grass” ever since.

“Eventually, it got to the point where he just looked old, and tired, and he wasn’t holding weight as well, and I knew it was time,” said Rosie. “He was such a grand old age.”

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