Eventing stalwart bows out on a high after 12 seasons at the top: ‘he owes me absolutely nothing’

Eventer Harry Dzenis has paid tribute to his long-term campaigner and fantastic cross-country horse Xam, who completed his last event at Blenheim on Sunday (22 September).

The 18-year-old grey has been competing at advanced level for seven seasons, taking in 11 CCI4*s (now CCI5*-Ls) including five starts at Burghley, four at Badminton and two at Luhmühlen .

Xam’s swansong was in the CCI4*-L at the SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials, where he jumped clear across country inside the time to finish 29th.

“He felt really good, I was really pleased with our cross-country round as that is the thing he has been known for over the years,” Harry told H&H.

“I had always planned Blenheim was going to be where he retired, so I had put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right as he deserved it.”

The horse, who is owned by the Xam partnership, came to Harry as a 10-year-old and was known for not being particularly easy on the flat.

Harry added that when jumping a fence in the school, Xam does not feel special, but out on the cross-country is where he comes into his own.

“My highlight on him was definitely Burghley 2017, where we finished 11th,” said Harry. “To be standing in the prizegiving with all these top riders both in front and behind me was very surreal and strange. To be very close to making the time at both Burghley and Luhmühlen is also something I’ m really proud of with him.

“He is going to have a normal life at home with me. I’m still going to ride him every day and he will stay as part of the yard. He loves his work, but I don’t want him to have the pressure of another season and this was a good time for him to take a step back.

He owes me absolutely nothing, he’s been a brilliant horse and I’ve had a real journey with him that ended in a lovely way.”

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Harry said he has been overwhelmed with the messages people have sent to him since he announced the horse’s retirement.

“To me, he is just little Xam,” he said. “[In this sport] you’re just in your own little world and don’t really think people know who you are, but the lovely messages I’ve been sent on Facebook have been amazing.”

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