International eventer and H&H blogger Simon Grieve has paid tribute to his four-star ride Douglas, who has been put down at the age of 15.
Simon described the ARD Douglas gelding as “the kindest soul”, who was “absolutely lovely” as well as being “hugely talented”.
The pair had been set to have their second run at Burghley this year, but withdrew after warming up for the cross-country as the horse “didn’t feel quite right”. Scans revealed a soft tissue injury, which didn’t recover as hoped.
“It was quite severe and he wouldn’t have been able to do anything,” Simon said.
The rider had partnered Douglas for three seasons, with their top performances including a Burghley cross-country clear in 2017.
“Jumping clear round somewhere like Burghley was such an amazing feeling,” Simon recalled. “It was wonderful for his owners, Vicki and Stewart Irlam. They love Burghley, it’s their favourite event and they never had a horse at that level before, so it ticked a box for them.
“He also finished 10th at Chatsworth that spring and jumped a fantastic double clear there, which is another stand-out memory for me.”
Simon added that he would always remember the horse as “a glass half-full kind of guy”.
“Everything was exciting and interesting for him. He always came out with the attitude ‘what are we doing today Simon? Are we doing…? That’s my favourite thing’. Everything was his favourite thing.
“He could be very spooky, which made him tricky in the dressage at times, but cross-country he was just fantastic.”
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Initially sourced by Vere and Clea Phillips, Douglas was successfully produced as a young horse by Emilie Chandler before being bought by Nina Barbour for Oliver Townend to ride in 2012.
The pair’s successes included a CIC3* win at Ballindenisk, before the horse had a two-season break following an injury. He was then competed in show jumping by Nina, before being sold to his most recent owner Vicki in 2016.
“We will miss our outings with Douglas and Team Grieve,” Vicki said. “He brought us a great deal of pleasure and excitement.”
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