‘He taught me so many life lessons’: Tokyo Olympic dressage horse retires age 16

  • Canadian dressage rider Lindsay Kellock said she will “never forget the feeling” her Olympic partner Sebastien gave her when he showed off to a crowd, as he is retired from the sport aged 16.

    Lindsay and the Sandro Hit son made their Olympic debut together at Tokyo, where they scored 65.40% in the grand prix.

    Earlier this month Lindsay said after “much thought, love, sadness and appreciation,” Sebastien would retire. She added she had had her sights on the dressage World Championships in Herning, Denmark, but over the past few months Sebastien had been “battling some health issues” and after discussion with his owner Melissa [Schiff Soros] and vet Rick Mitchell, it was decided retirement was in his “best interest”.

    The pair’s last international competition was the Wellington CDI5* in Florida on 22 February, where they were eighth in the grand prix on 67.979%. They made their grand prix debut in 2019 and achieved a number of top placings, including winning the grand prix and grand prix freestyle in a World Cup qualifier in Devon, Pennsylvania, that September.

    “Sebastien taught me so many life lessons. He taught me to be patient, resilient, caring, tough, humble, and grateful,” said Lindsay.

    “Like every story with horses, the path to realise one’s dreams is not always clear, and there are often many challenges along the way. When Sebastien and I had our best moments in the ring, it was all worth it. He gave me such an incredible feeling, and is one of the most talented horses I have ever sat on.”

    Lindsay added Sebastien “helped her through the most difficult time in her life” and “gave her a reason to keep going and push” to reach her lifelong dream of being an Olympian. In January 2021 Lindsay’s brother Jonathan, a competitive ski racer, died from a brain tumour aged 29.

    “I have so many people to thank who went on this journey with us and were a huge part of our success and ability to get to this level,” said Lindsay.

    “First and foremost, Melissa Schiff Soros and your Enterprise Farm Equestrian. None of this would be possible without you. You picked him at just three years old, identifying both his athleticism and good brain.

    “You introduced us, stood by our side, and supported this partnership through and through. Always our biggest cheerleader. Sebastien loved getting his polo mints from you in the barn and in the warm ups at the shows. Thank you for your trust and I look forward to bringing up your talented young horses so we can continue on this amazing journey together.”

    Lindsay thanked Sebastien’s vet team at Fairfield Equine, and formerly Rhinebeck Equine Clinic, her physios, grooms, and farriers, and her coach of 12 years Ashley Holzer.

    “Lastly thank you to Sebastien for being a great partner. You are cheeky, hilarious, loving, scary, opinionated, confident, loyal all at once,” she said.

    “Even though we had our moments where you would try and dictate how the ride was going to go or on some days attempt to dump me into the judges booths, I will always miss going down the centre line with you.

    “I will never forget the feeling you gave me when you wanted to show off for the crowd. You were a real showman when you wanted to be and I will always cherish the partnership we had and the special moments we shared together, both in and out of the ring. Happy retirement Seb. You deserve it.”

    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 your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...