‘My heart is broken’: top five-star rider pays tribute to horse put down following Luhmühlen injury

  • Heartbroken US eventer Tamie Smith is to “live life to the fullest” in memory of her five-star ride Solaguayre California, who has been put down aged 12.

    The Argentinian-bred mare picked up an injury across country at the Luhmühlen five-star on 17 June. Although initial reports of her condition were fairly upbeat, the issue was more complex than originally thought, and California had to be put down after surgery.

    “My heart is broken as I write this and say that Solaguayre California was humanely euthanised after a planned surgery to repair a slab fracture to her knee,” Tamie said. “As California jumped out of the C element of the water at the Luhmühlen CCI5*, I felt her hit the jump and what seemed to be just a sting and disappointing moment of having to pull her up to save for another day.”

    That day, Tamie said David and Julianna Guariglia’s mare was “doing well and is happy at a local clinic” and was “being treated for a puncture wound that ultimately created a fracture”.

    She added: “There isn’t really any explanation other than freak things happen sometimes, however the most important thing is that she is happy and has an optimistic prognosis for making a full recovery.”

    Tamie said the odds had looked good for California’s recovery, as she had pulled up when she did and it seemed a “simple fix’.

    “However it has turned out much more extensive and the damage was irreparable,” she said.

    “This is devastating to our team, her owners and I cannot quite imagine life without our girl, however her tenacity and grit was the complete example of how we get through times like these.

    “I find comfort knowing we were able to get her to the best surgeon with the best medical team. There were so many amazing people who helped facilitate this and no stone was unturned on trying to find a perfect plan to having her make a full recovery.

    “California was a star in the making and showed the world, especially this season how incredibly gifted she was. Our hopes and dreams for her were so high. Our hearts are broken.”

    Solaguayre California enjoyed consistent results at four-star level in the lead-up to her first five-star at Luhmühlen, including winning the CCI4*-L at Morven Park in Virginia in October 2022, and three top-five placings at CCI4*-S level this spring.

    “As I sit here hugging the black stallion in a puddle of tears I have to reflect at the incredible honour it is to have these partnerships with our horses,” Tamie said. “How lucky are we to experience such a bond with these athletes.

    “I know that living means you take the good with the bad. Life’s uncertainty can’t disable your life because you are afraid of the risk of living, it isn’t easy, but it is better to have experienced the moments and memories and to live for every moment than to just sit and be safe.

    “California was the epitome of ‘carpe diem’, so I take this meaning of living life to the fullest in her memory. My brain is spinning, my heart is broken, but I know I have you all to keep me pushing on.”

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