Horse overcomes kissing spines to make winning return to eventing five years after young owner’s death

  • A horse who evented with his young owner before her death in 2016 has overcome kissing spine surgery and a tendon injury to return to the circuit, and help a former drug addict.

    Tracy Dodd’s daughter Izzy Squire was 19 when she, her sister Beth Anderson and Christian Sloan died while travelling in Vietnam in 2016.

    Izzy and her Dutch warmblood gelding B Walt Lando Z had competed up to junior one-star (now two-star) level but after Izzy’s death, Tracy loaned him out. He has now found a new rider in Alison Garner, with whom he has won both BE90 events he has competed in this season.

    Tracy told H&H it had been a long road.

    “For a while, I didn’t know what to do with Walt as it was all too close to home,” Tracy said. “He went to Jess Wasley, the girl Izzy wanted him to go to while she was travelling, then to a young event rider called Evie Gaskell, who did really well with him, then in 2018, it all went a bit Pete Tong.

    “He got eliminated showjumping and we thought ‘something’s not right here’. We ran fingers along his spine and he nearly shot into the air.”

    Vets confirmed kissing spines so Walt had injections, which failed to have an effect, and then underwent surgery, and was slowly brought back into work. But he still appeared to be not 100% jumping, and he was sent to a friend’s farm for a quieter life.

    “Within a week, he’d punctured a tendon in the field and had to have six months off,” Tracy said. “But I think that did him the world of good.

    “He did some dressage and a couple of unaffiliated events but last summer when I went to see him, he seemed sad, and for the first time in over four years, I felt a connection with him again. It was very emotional, so I thought ‘I’m going to bring him home’.”

    Alison was a friend of Izzy’s, and Tracy had been riding at her livery yard for a few months at this point, so it “seemed natural” to ask Alison if she would take Walt.

    Tracy also met Steven Coyle, a former addict whose life was being transformed by Alison’s horses, and allowed him to ride Walt as well.

    “Walt absolutely adores Steven,” she said. “Horses sense things, and it’s like he knows what Steven’s going through. They did some online dressage together and they won, then went to some unaffiliated dressage and came third and fourth, which Steven was so pleased with.”

    Tracy, who described herself as “a bit of a happy hacker”, also asked Alison if she would like to event Walt. They spent last winter building him up, and he came right.

    On 12 June, Walt and Alison won their BE90 section at Speetley, and on 26 June, they repeated the feat at Dubarry Eland Lodge.

    “We put a lot of work into him and it paid off,” Tracy said.

    “It’s been absolutely amazing. Alison’s been eventing 20 years and these are her first wins so she’s chuffed to bits. He’s good at his dressage and at both events, he was in the lead after the dressage, then went on to win.

    “It’s quite emotional seeing Walt do the things Izzy did with him but I’m sure Izzy would be pleased, that he’s eventing again, helping Steven, and both Steven and Alison adore him.

    “And for me, it’s great because he’s nearer to me, and I know he’s happy now.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade to access our H&H Plus online service which brings you breaking news as it happens as well as other benefits.

    You may like...