Top British horse who ‘taught us never to give up hope’ retires

  • The multi national champion and reserve para team horse Touchdown M has been retired aged 19.

    The Jazz gelding kick-started Paralympic champion Sophie Wells’ international career, and was named as reserve for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. The pair were later called up to the team, but were unable to compete as Touch was diagnosed with a tumour in his hoof.

    He was retired from competition for seven years before coming sound and being brought back into work to partner Sophie’s pupil, upcoming para rider Izzy Palmer, now 19.

    Touch and Izzy went on to dominate grade IV para ranks in the UK, becoming national champions in 2017 and winter national champions in 2018.

    Touch also enjoyed a second successful international career; he and Izzy were team reserves for the 2017 European Championships and 2018 World Equestrian Games. They achieved able-bodied success, too, being reserve winter champions at advanced medium this year.

    Touch’s retirement was announced following Izzy’s debut prix st georges (PSG) on him, at Vale View on Monday 9 September, which they won with almost 65%.

    “This little horse has taught me so much, and taken me on a journey I will never ever forget and brought about emotions that will stick with me forever,” said Izzy in an emotional Facebook post.“He has a heart of gold and the most gentle, genuine nature ever.

    “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the most amazing dancing partner over the past four years and for holding my hand when I was unsure of the way and for teaching me how to hold yours.”

    Continued below…

    Sophie added her own tribute to the 16hh gelding: “Thank you Touchy, for just being you; for teaching us how to stick to your airs above the ground due to being so ‘touchy’ and to learning to sit to the bounciest trot ever known, and for being the passage king.

    “Who knows where you would have ended up without your injuries and seven years off, but gosh we didn’t expect you to have another four years of fun on the other side of that! Forever our miracle and the most sensitive soul, teaching us to never give up hope.”

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