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New Zealand dressage star Jody Hartstone heads to the 2011 NZ Horse of the Year Show next week with a heavy heart.
Yesterday (Thursday) Hartstone farwelled her wonderful black stallion Whisper, who was put down after a recent injury and short illness.
“It was the least I could do for him – he was such a special horse,” says the rider from Raglan. “I have such a deep respect for him that I couldn’t bare to see him suffer in any way.”
Just last year Hartstone travelled to the United States and Australia in an effort to qualify the 15-year-old for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. While they came oh-so-close, it just wasn't to be.
It was love at first sight when Hartstone first set eyes on Whisper five years ago in Melbourne.
“It was a privilege for me to bring him to New Zealand and show him off. It was a greater privilege to be cradling his gentle head in my arms at the very end.”
Whisper burst onto the New Zealand scene just one short year ago and swept aside the opposition at the New Zealand National Championships and 2010 Horse of the Year Show, winning all the main classes.
Together they won 11 of their 12 starts in New Zealand – placing second in that 12th one.
“One of our highlights with him was seeing the amazing crowds that turned out to watch him perform his kur at last year’s HoY. Never before has New Zealand had such a crowd puller as Whisper – he did great things for the sport in such a small space of time.”
Whisper served a full book of mares this season and will undoubtedly leave his legacy for many years to come.
“He had a truly magical aura about him and a temperament and personality that is so rare in a stallion – I was lucky to have him.”
Hartstone will compete on her other stallion Donnerwind at the Horse of the Year Show which starts on Tuesday.