Apparently my girlfriend is feeling a bit left out so I guess it's time to introduce Isla, or Silver Arabesque to give her her full title, these days she likes to be known as Princess which to be honest suits her pretty well!
Isla is an 18 year old 15.1hh Irish Sport Horse. She's lived with the family for 12 years having been bought initially for mums little sister. Isla and her first jockey didn't quite see eye to eye on a lot of things, so after mum got bored of breaking up their domestics she started taking Isla with her to vet school each term. They've been together ever since as "no-one else would have her" (I'll leave you to decide if I'm talking about the horse or rider there).
Isla started her career as an event horse in 2005, unfortunately she's never really got the hang of the "submission" and "harmony" bits of dressage but she loves galloping and jumping so she very quickly worked her way up to pre-novice (BE100) and has even had a few goes at Novice courses but mum wasn't much good at showjumping 1.15m. She's won quite a few showjumping classes, especially indoors where the walls help contain her speed a bit, has had a few placings British Eventing and came 3rd at the Pony Club championships in the associates arena event (shall we mention she'd have won it if she slowed down a bit?).
Unfortunately Isla started having problems with her feet when she was eight. She's been diagnosed with various issues at various times related to her front feet, what would traditionally be known as Navicular Syndrome. Being owned by a vet she mostly managed to keep going with the aid of various remedial farriers, drugs and a careful exercise regime. She had a long break whilst mum did her finals which didn't do her much good but when she went to a hunter trial in 2010 she told mum exactly what she thought of being semi-retired by being stupid around the smaller fences at the start and jumping the big ones at the end beautifully.
She came back and did a full season at BE100 in 2011 before breaking again, and again coming back and showing off around a huge unaffiliated course at Eland Lodge, followed by managing a PB finishing score of 36.5 round a tough BE100 at the first Frickley Park BE event.
Early in the 2013 season she went lame again though and this time whilst all the usual tricks improved the lameness every time she got a bit fitter it got worse again. This is where yours truly appeared on the scene. When I met Isla she had just had her shoes taken off to try and transition her to being my companion, she was crippled. Mum was really upset that maybe it wasn't fair to carry on with her but had just come across a place called Rockley Farm who manage to consistently turn these horses around. Isla had just a bit of money left in her "colic fund" so rather then put her down mum used this to send her to stay for a few months. On her last day there she went for a hack and nearly threw mum off she was so full of herself!
Isla being Isla was very keen to get back to it, her feet still weren't quite up to doing lots of miles or uneven surfaces but she made her feelings about further rehab known by escaping the field and loading herself into the horsebox one day so mum relented and re-introduced some fun.
She was back eventing 4 months after her return from Rockley, she went 70 seconds too fast at her first event back without breaking a sweat and managed several sub 40 finishing scores at BE90 that summer. She came out the following spring and took over a minute off the optimum at the festival of the horse qualifier with the handbrake on and managed to come 2nd at Burghley (Pony Club event).
It's taken a couple of years to get her feet as strong as mine, she has a stiff back and her lungs aren't great but she's had no further problems with her "navicular". She isn't quite crazy enough to keep jumping through the pain these days, some days she says she doesn't want to play so mum has stopped paying lots of money to take her BE and reduced the height of the jumps a bit. She does still like an outing though and has recently acquired a new jockey to
traumatise teach the joys of galloping at solid obstacles to (good luck Paige). She's a sensitive princess but she says she isn't quite ready to retire just yet!