‘Her legacy will live on’: heartbreak as top British horse dies days after giving birth

Jessica Mendoza said she is “heartbroken” after her top mare Spirit T died at the age of 18, days after giving birth to a foal.

The mare delivered a healthy filly by Aganix Du Seigneur Z on 7 July with no problems, albeit four weeks early, but it soon became clear there were complications and that the mare was not well, so while the vets looked after her, Jessica put out the call for a foster mare.

“She was trying to look after the foal but couldn’t produce the milk,” Jessica told H&H.

“The power of Facebook meant we were inundated with messages and we found one lady whose foal had died the day before and she was able to bring her mare straight over. Luckily the foal took straight away and she’s doing fine.”

Despite the best efforts of the veterinary team, Spirit T died on Tuesday morning (9 July).

“I have a feeling that’s why she gave birth so early — it’s really nice to know she gave the foal the chance to live,” said Jessica.

“The foal was with her right up until her final moments, as the stress of taking her foal away would have been too much, and that gives us some comfort.

“I know I’ll never have another horse like her.”

Jessica and Spirit T were selected as reserves for Great Britain’s 2016 Olympic showjumping team in Rio and jumped everything from the junior and senior European championships to CSI5* grands prix and Nations Cups.

“She was my everything,” said Jessica. “The best horse and best friend anyone could ask for.

“She was the best thing that ever happened to me — she took me, a 20-year-old girl, to the Olympics. Everything I had ever dreamt of, we did it together. We travelled the world and competed in classes I could only dream of and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime.”

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Jessica has named the filly foal Barcelona T after the last show — the Nations Cup final — at which she and Spirit T competed in 2016.

This was British-bred Spirit T’s first birth after she produced two foals last year by embryo transfer — both by Big Star. The colt yearling belongs to Big Star’s owner Gary Widdowson, while Jessica has kept the filly.

“Thank you for everything Spirit T and thank you to everyone along her journey,” added Jessica. “I hope that her ‘Spirit’ will be carried in her babies and her legacy will live on.”

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