Sporting Hero (3 May 1993 - 24 December 2018) 'one in a million horse', my best friend.
We were so saddened when Dorothy got in touch to let us know that her horse, Sporting Hero, winner of December's Veteran Horse Pick Your Own class, had sadly passed away on Christmas Eve. Here, she shares a beautiful tribute to her 'one in a million' horse.
I bought Hero, a seven year old Irish Sport Horse (mare: Barnston Tessa and stallion: Kerry Sportsman VII) in 2000 from Barnston Riding Centre on the Wirral. He was born there and became one of the most adorable horses in the school. He was the first horse I rode on my arrival in Great Britain and I knew from my first ride that he was the one for me. Many people tried to buy Hero and it took nearly a year to convince the owner of Hero to sell him to me! I had to make a promise to his owner that he would be with me until the end.
He was such a character, lovely when he wanted to be, but bucked when he felt he could get his rider off. We enjoyed our first five years hacking out around the lanes and just getting to know each other. He did some jumping and cross country at local shows and in May 2005 I decided to have my first dressage lesson with him. He was a quick learner and we found ourselves qualifying for the British Championships, so decided to give it a go and travelled to the David Broom Event Centre near Bristol. After three days of competition against 42 people, we won the British Dressage Championships. We became members of British Dressage and our dressage career took off under the supervision of Dianne Breeze and Janet Horswill, both British Dressage trainers. They both helped me to move him quickly to Medium level and we competed very often with winning results. He also won showing classes, even qualifying for the British Showing Championships for veteran horses.
In 2014 I moved to Poland, taking Sporting Hero with me for a long six day journey to a new Polish stable. We started competing in Poland and as expected Hero turning in his 20s still won many competitors winning the Malopolska county dressage championships in 2015 (at the age of 22), 4th in the World Dressage bridles riding competition in Wroclaw 2016 (aged 23) and won nearly every dressage competition he entered at 24 and 25 years old.
Many other people who rode him earned achievements such as getting various sport qualifications. His last competition was the December Dressage Anywhere Elementary for veteran horses, which he won with a very good score.
But sadly on 24 December he passed away at the age of 25 from an aneurism. He had such a strong bond with me, that before he died, he appeared outside my window and started calling out so loudly at 4am that I woke up and went to see him. He then walked to the stables (as all my horses live out 24/7 when weather allows) and stopped whinnying when he reached my side. He laid down and passed away in my arms whilst I stroked his beautiful face. My other horse Sandro Hero who was with Hero for 10 years stayed with him until the last minute. He misses him so much and is still grieving.
I miss him, he was my horse of a lifetime, with me for 18 years and stayed with me right until the end just as I promised to his previous owner.
Thank you so much Dorothy, for sharing your story with us. They become such an important part of our lives and leave such a gaping hole when we have to say goodbye. Our thoughts are with you x