The double world young horse champion Woodlander Farouche is to be retired from competition for the foreseeable future.
The 12-year-old Fürst Heinrich x Dimaggio mare, who was bred by Lynne Crowden and is owned by the Eilbergs and John and Ali Walton, will instead focus on her breeding career after sustaining an injury in 2016, when on the brink of grand prix.
“We are going to stop trying to bring Farouche back into work, and focus on embryos with her,” Michael confirmed to H&H. “We have invested a lot of time and money into our youngstock and we want her to be a part of that breeding programme.”
Farouche topped the World Breeding Dressage Championships as a five- and six-year-old and went on to excel at small tour with Michael, until suffering a severe fetlock sprain just after her double small tour victory in a strong field at Aachen in July 2016.
“She had time off and we nursed it back to health, but the problem is that she seems unable to sustain harder work on it now. If I work her lightly she’s OK, but the minute I step it up a notch she goes sore again,” Michael told H&H.
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Farouche bred two successful embryo transfer foals before her competition career escalated — Walk On The Wild Side and the approved stallion Wild Child — but struggled to produce embryos while in full work.
“When she’s in work, she doesn’t seem to want to be a mummy,” said Michael. “I also felt she used to switch off a bit when we were doing embryo work with her, and wasn’t as nice to ride — we always said we would stop with the embryos once she started the serious work. However, since she’s been off we’ve done really well with embryos from her — we had a foal from her last year and have another on the way this year — so it makes sense to pursue that now.”
Michael has not ruled out bringing Farouche back into work at a later stage, though acknowledges that it will be difficult as she gets older. He is also keen to see her carry her own foal at some point.
Michael still has a number of exciting competition prospects, including the eight-year-old Daltrey, currently competing successfully at small tour, and several younger horses coming up through the ranks, such as MSJ Dante and Mount St John Valencia, though is currently without a grand prix ride.
Don’t miss this week’s issue for our special report from the British Dressage Winter Championships, plus full analysis from the Grand National — including expert comment, pictures and more. Read our report from the dressage and showjumping World Cup finals, and in this week’s ‘vet clinic’ we discuss the facts about fitness.