Rider turns her grief into ‘something positive’ by helping problem horses

  • A professional rider who lost her gelding in a tragic accident hopes to “give something back” by helping problem horses in his memory.

    Gloucestershire-based Sophie Seymour, who runs a schooling and training business, set up Roo’s Legacy in memory of her 14-year-old gelding Roo who was put down on 14 January after breaking his leg. The legacy involves one horse with behavioural issues receiving a free place at Sophie’s yard while she works on it to help overcome the problems.

    Sophie told H&H 16.2hh Dutch warmblood Roo was kicked by a horse while on a hack on 8 January, and although X-rays and scans of the leg came back clear, the gelding broke his leg overnight on 13 January.

    “I arrived at the yard at 6am and at first I thought Roo was colicking or had an infection – I never thought it was going to be a break,” said Sophie.

    “The vet thinks he broke it trying to get up after lying down and said sometimes there can be a break inside the bone that hasn’t shown up initially but can be catastrophic.”

    Sophie had owned Roo for over a year after taking him on loan for five and a half years when she turned 18, the same age she started her equestrian business.

    “His owners wanted to sell him and I couldn’t afford him so I sold Christmas cards with his picture and managed to buy him,” she said.

    “Roo was the most genuine, easiest, kind horse in the world – he would be anything you wanted him to be. We did everything together; he was the horse I did my first open team chase on, and last year we won our first novice at British Eventing. This year we had hoped to work towards intermediate.”

    Credit: Angela Clarke

    Sophie decided to set up Roo’s Legacy to “turn her grief into something positive”.

    “Roo is why I am where I am today, so I want to give something back. My work has mainly been dealing with problem horses, and after I lost Roo I felt so low I didn’t think I’d ride again. A week after losing him I went to ride my other horse Odin and had a panic attack,” she said.

    “It sounds silly but it felt like my purpose had gone after I lost him and I wanted to give myself something to focus on.”

    Sophie put a post on her Facebook page advertising Roo’s Legacy and said she has received more than 100 emails from interested owners about their horses.

    “Lots of people can afford to keep horses, but not everyone can afford to have them trained when there is a problem, so the way I have looked at it is I can offer one horse a place for free after losing a horse who I was paying for,” she said.

    “The first thing will be making sure the horse doesn’t have any pain-related issues and I have a saddle fitter, dentist and back person who want to work with me on the legacy.”

    Sophie said there will be no limit on how long a horse spends with her.

    “The horse will tell me when they’re ready to go home – some problems might take a few weeks to solve or some could take months, to a year. After helping the horse I want to get the owner in and work with them together, there’s no point sending a horse home if the owner is worried about riding them,” she said.

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    “I would like Roo’s Legacy to become well known and when people are struggling they think of it as somewhere to turn to. Eventually I would like to be able to expand and help more than one horse at a time.”

    Sophie is still accepting applications via email and hopes to work with the first horse in March.

    “I don’t ever want to forget Roo or how he made me feel, but I hope by doing this I can help a horse and an owner where this is their last hope.”

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