It is difficult for me to make any sort of statement regarding the events of yesterday. While I have yet to receive the full necropsy
report, it is clear from preliminary findings that Joey (Conair) passed from some sort of internal hemorrhaging. As soon as we arrived at the main stables at the Fork, it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than just a banged stifle, and at that point, there was very little that we or the vets could do. It all happened so fast. I take some comfort in that Katie, Shannon, Nanki, and I were there for Joey’s final moments. He certainly would have known how loved he was.
For me personally, the whole episode was the realization of my greatest fear as a professional event rider. We are a courageous bunch, but our horses are sacred. In many ways, I cherish their well-being more than my own. I am sure that many of my peers feel the same way. Just as I take responsibility for everything regarding their care, training, and happiness, it is hard for me to not feel responsible for this horrid accident.
That being said, things happen in life that are simply tragic and hard to explain. The loss of a horse is no different than losing a family member. One of the few things that lessens the pain is being able to tell them how much they meant to you and how much they were loved before they are gone. Lucky for us, a horseman gets to convey that to his horses everyday; in the way that we care for them, exercise them, and train them, in the various ways that we make them aware that their happiness matters to us. In this regard, I have no doubt that Joey knew how much he meant to us. Anyone who knew him could testify to his zeal for life and work. He did not get by on talent. He was all heart, the “Rudy” of equines. His work ethic will continue to inspire me, and his joyful presence will always be missed.
Myself and Katie want to thank Joey’s owners, The Booth family, Team Rebecca LLC, and Nanki Doubleday, for their support and understanding. You have been amazing throughout, and I thank you now for your friendship more than anything. Shannon, you are an amazing horse manager, and your selfless care for these animals and regard for their happiness is second to none. Thank you for giving them so much love on a daily basis, and for being a part of our family here. Katie, I am lucky to have you by my side, now and always. And to Rodney and Alex, thank you for the gift of this wonderful horse. Joey came to us a happy horse and I am confident that he leaves us now as one. We will cherish our time with him, as I know you do. To fellow eventers, thank you for your generous and comforting support. It never ceases to amaze how this community can pick up a comrade when his or her world seems to be falling down around them. Andrew McConnon and I are lucky to call ourselves eventers after this weekend.