|Shabby with his owner, Emma. August 2015|
After checking his temperature and watching him for a while, we decide to let him be. I say I'll check on him in ten minutes, go and organise the tack for his lesson and don't think much of it.
In one of my lectures during the coaching degree we had this chat with a sports psychology tutor. They were discussing with us how it's very important not to have favourites when we teach or ride, to try to make sure our riders and horses always get the same attention and same quality of lessons. Here is the thing. You might try and you might give your best but if you are truly honest with yourself you will know there are always people and horses who pull on your heart strings that little bit more and you can't help yourself but favourite them just that little bit.
Shabby is my heart string horse and little did I know when strolling to his stable for that ten minutes check up, that I would never teach on him again.
It takes just about a couple of seconds for me to realise he is not at all fine. He is on the floor again, stuck this time and it takes all my effort to pull him far enough from the wall so he can lie down in a semi-normal position. He is quiet and peaceful. Too peaceful. I call Emma just in case because all this just looks too odd and I know if this was my horse I would want to know. Few minutes later he is attempting to roll again. I can't get him up by myself though so I get out and get help.
It's about 17:25 on Monday evening. By 10pm on 1st of February 2016 Shabby is put to sleep.
There are horses much more capable out there than he was but Shabby had this big heart that made me look forward to every single lesson ever since I got to meet him in the autumn of 2014. It didn't matter that he invented his own versions of dressage tests and his own version of dressage movements. We laughed with Emma that he had his own walk half-pass which we called Sha-pass. He sang in canter. The oddest, funniest sounds. He did cricket scores show jumping. But he tried and tried and tried again and he was a lion cross country.
It took many hours of work and perseverance and a lot of belief but he did us proud so many times.
I trusted him with my young riders even when he carted them around the cross country course or the arena. I knew that as long as they stay calm, he will eventually stop and smile as if to say, there, now you'd ridden at speed.
The best ex-racehorse I have ever had a privilege to teach on - not because of his competition results or scope or stunning movement but because when the horse does the best he can do for you and add some more, you know about it and you better appreciate it.
Run free Shab. I will miss you.