Today marks one year since I lost my darling Freddy. I know that we all love each and every one of our horses dearly, but I truly believe that sometimes one comes along who really captures your heart like no other – and Freddy was that kind of horse.
I loved everything about Freddy, even though we had plenty of ups and downs. There were times when he misbehaved and let me down, just as there were times when I misjudged situations and let him down. We made a lot of mistakes, but slowly began to learn from them. I’m sure many people wondered why I persevered with a horse who could be so unpredictable, just as others wondered why I hadn’t managed to achieve more with such a talented horse. He just made me so happy, and I enjoyed every minute I spent with him – from the adrenaline rush of galloping cross country, to quietly enjoying the scenery on a fabulous ride out, or just hanging out with him and finding his favourite scratchy spots.
I think my most cherished memory of our time together was winning the NSW Equitation Championships in 2012. While eventing will always be my number one passion, to be rewarded that day for my riding, presentation and our partnership is something I’ll always be proud of. He tried his little heart out for me that day, and when the judge told me she wanted to buy him for her daughter, there could never have been a price that would have made me want to part with him.
My darling boy and our treasured trophy rug – looking exhausted from all that good behaviour.
It has been a long year of ups and down while I’ve tried to come to terms with losing him so unexpectedly. There seems to be some misinformation about what actually happened that day. I guess this might be a good opportunity to clear that up, because it’s not really the most pleasant topic to have to try to explain all the time.
Fred was heading to my coach’s farm while I went interstate for Christmas. On that morning, we spent a couple of lovely hours just hanging out, waiting for him to be picked up… He had a bath, extra breakfast, and then I sat in the paddock with him while he grazed next to me. I had no idea it would be the last chance I had to spend time with him – but it was such a beautiful morning.
The last photo I ever had the chance to take – one of my favourite moments with Fred.
On the way to the farm, a tyre blew out, causing the float to fishtail and tip up onto two wheels. Fred hit his head on the wall, and went down. Initially, he seemed to be fairly unscathed aside from a relatively minor head wound, so we thought he was going to be ok. However, he was cast against the wall of the float, and even with a number of us trying to get him up, we just couldn’t get the leverage to help him onto his feet. The vet had been called immediately, but unfortunately shock set in before he arrived, and Freddy passed away.
It was just one of those truly freak accidents – the road and weather conditions were perfect, and the float was being driven well within the speed limit. Even in hindsight, I don’t know that there could have been anything done to prevent this from happening, aside from avoiding putting him on a float ever again… obviously not a logical option for a horse who regularly travelled for competitions, training and socialising.
All credit must go to my amazing instructor, who managed to avoid what could have been a far more serious accident, and I’m so grateful that she wasn’t injured as well. Absolutely everyone involved had only his best interests at heart – sometimes it seems that terrible things are just inevitable.
This will be the last time that I write about Freddy. While I will never stop missing him, I’m learning that holding onto grief does absolutely no good – it won’t bring him back, and it certainly doesn’t make it hurt any less. So rather than dwelling on what I have lost, I just want to focus on the happy memories we created over the years.
Losing him was certainly the most traumatic experience of my life, but I am grateful that indirectly it has allowed me to travel and experience different parts of the world, and I will certainly never forget everything he taught me.
Rest easy my darling Freddy – thank you for lighting up my life.