‘One in a million’: rescued Spindles Farm yearling’s journey to showing stardom

  • A yearling who was part of “one of the most horrific cases of animal cruelty in the UK” has gone on to become a “one in a million” pony – and last year made his London International Horse Show debut.

    In 2008 Dazzle was one of more than 100 equines rescued from Spindles Farm, in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. The case was one of the largest equine rescues in the UK, involving a number of welfare charities, who took in animals. There were 32 equines found dead at the scene.

    The Horse Trust took in 14 horses and ponies, including yearling Dazzle, who was underweight and suffering from a salmonella infection. He was rehabilitated, and when he was old enough he began his training, during which time he was described by charity staff as “an absolute sweetheart”.

    Dazzle found a home with Claire and her son Tom, who “jumped at the chance” to have him. Since then he has gone from “strength to strength”. Now 16, Dazzle has competed at novice level dressage and represented the Old Berkeley Hunt branch of the Pony Club in team competitions with Tom. The pair were second in the Senior Showing and Dressage (SSADL) veteran class at Royal Windsor and at the SSADL championships the pair qualified for the 2022 London International Horse Show, where they finished 12th.

    The 2023 season is off to a “flying start”, with Tom and Dazzle qualifying for the Pony Club spring festival (11-12 February).

    “If I had £1 for every time someone asked if they could have him, I would be a millionaire!” said Claire.

    “He’s such a saint; he never puts a foot wrong, he’s so safe to hack and foot-perfect. Dazzle is truly a one in a million horse and considering his extremely neglected start, it’s amazing how much he gives.”

    A Horse Trust spokesman said prior to joining Claire and Tom, Dazzle was in the care of another family and was particularly loved by his “dad” Jerry.

    “When Jerry unfortunately became extremely poorly, he had one last wish to see his old friend Dazzle. Claire, knowing what a special horse Dazzle is and fully aware of the therapeutic benefits horses have on people, decided the right and best thing to do would be to hack the two hours to this gentleman’s home to grant him this final wish,” he said.

    “They rode through the garden to the window where Jerry was waiting. They didn’t know then, but this would be the last time he was able to stand, he put that final burst of energy into saying goodbye to this truly special horse that has given so much to so many.”

    The spokesman added the charity is “honoured” to have been part of Dazzle’s journey.

    “It has been amazing to see Dazzle continue to spread his wings with Claire and Tom. It goes to show what dedicated time, specialist care, love and patience can really do for rescue ponies,” he said.

    “Dazzle is a shining example of why we work so hard and do what we do. We couldn’t do it without donations from our incredible supporters.”

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