Wednesday, 16 October 2019

‘Black Beauty’ recovers his health to record show wins

‘Black Beauty’ recovers his health to record show wins

A HORSE which could have been put down after suffering years of unexplained lameness won two titles at Henley Farm and Country Show.

Jeremy, a 16-year-old black Trakehner belonging to Suzy Bannon, of Bell Street, Henley, came first in both the rare breeds in hand class and the rare breeds championship as well as second in veterans in hand.

Mrs Bannon, who stables him at Cane End Stud, decided to enter the horse for Saturday’s show at the last minute as he was looking particularly healthy and several of her friends had complimented his appearance.

She wasn’t expecting him to do so well and says she was happy merely to show him off as he was in an extremely poor condition when she bought him in December 2014.

He kept going lame in his rear legs and at first vets could not pinpoint the cause. A bone density scan revealed nothing but in 2017 an MRI scan finally showed both his digital flexor tendons were torn.

These are long tendons which run along the lower half of the limb, allowing it to flex and absorb shocks.

It is likely that Jeremy was injured in his first four years of life, when he was trained as a top-level dressage horse and had to perform demanding moves such as pirouhettes.

After realising this, Mrs Bannon was able to improve his condition by riding mostly in a straight line without jumps or tight turns and occasionally going up hills to build his strength.

She also only feeds him Bramley or Cox’s pippin apples as he is a fussy eater and will spit out other varieties.

Mrs Bannon, 54, a climate consultant who sits on Henley Town Council’s climate change emergency group, grew up around horses but hadn’t owned one since about 1999.

She first met Jeremy nine years ago when he was being kept on land owned by a friend in Cholsey.

When she heard he was up for sale and likely to go to a riding school, she decided to buy him as he was “far too posh for that”.

She knew he had mobility problems but was determined to give him a good quality of life.

According to the vet who finally diagnosed Jeremy, he would probably have got worse and been euthanised without specialist
intervention.

Jeremy, who is 18 hands high, was handled at the show by 13-year-old Arabella Smith, a family friend who was taking part in her first equestrian event.

Mrs Bannon said: “I went into it with no aspirations whatsoever but thought I’d give it a go as he was looking so gorgeous and had put on weight. I have to say, I drank rather a lot of Prosecco after I heard the result. I was so stunned and proud as he’s been on such a long and terribly rough journey, the poor darling.

“From the moment we parked at the entrance, visitors were standing around to take pictures and say how beautiful he was. He seems to have that effect on people — everyone calls him Black Beauty.

“He was surprisingly well-behaved as he’s not often around large groups and I thought he might get naughty and excited but he took it all in his stride.

“I was in tears at the end and was thanking the judge, telling her he hadn’t had a very good start in life. She replied that he was beautiful and very well-behaved.

“Now I’d like to know if he qualifies for anything else because I want to show him as much as
possible.”

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