‘Her heart made her’: rider pays tribute to four-star mare

  • Eventer Sacha Hourigan has paid tribute to her much-loved former four-star horse I’ve Been Dun, a mare who “would never give up”.

    “Sandy”, with whom Sacha finished ninth at Luhmühlen CCI4* in 2008 and 10th in 2009, has been put down aged 22.

    The combination were selected as non-travelling reserves for Ireland for the Beijing Olympics, and were on the Irish team for the 2009 European Championships.

    Sandy was originally bought as a five-year-old for Sacha’s mother Christine Pemble to “do a bit of jumping”, and Sacha said her name came from the fact the family thought they had over-paid for the mare, who cost £3,500.

    “Of course, then it turned out it was more the seller who had been done!” Sacha told H&H.

    “She wasn’t super-scopey, wasn’t really an event horse. Until I moved her up to each level, I didn’t know whether she’d do it. At her first four-star, I remember feeling her almost reach for fence four and I thought it was too much for her.

    “By fence five, she found a jump and carried on. She wasn’t really talented but her heart made her a jumper. She’d have died for me.”

    Sacha credited the mare’s stamina for much of her success.

    “She absolutely believed anything I asked of her,” she said. “The only time she made mistakes was at the Europeans. She had a couple of run-outs but still completed, then when they took her blood, it turned out she had a virus and shouldn’t have jumped the first fence.

    “When she won at Hartpury [CCI2* in 2003] it was about 40C and she just kept going, didn’t get tired, and when she won Punchestown [CCI3*, 2006] it was so wet, none of the horses could carry on but she just kept fighting, she didn’t give up.”

    Sacha retired Sandy after Badminton 2010, where she jumped clear across country.

    “We’d looked after her and I didn’t want to break her,” Sacha said, adding that Sandy went on to have five foals, all of whom she has kept.

    “Something bad had happened to her before we bought her,” Sacha said. “but I think she trusted and believed in me, we had that bond; she was very much a one-person horse.”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...