Pan American Games Eventing Team Gold Medalist Michael Pollard?s international event horses were involved in a road traffic accident just five miles from his training center in Dalton, Georgia on Friday morning.
According to a press release sent on behalf of the rider, the horse trailer in which they were riding turned over, trapping all six horses on board.
Five horses were cut free and survived with lacerations but, tragically, Michael's new ride, the stallion VDL Ulando H, died at the scene as a result of head and neck trauma. Five other horses, mostly event horses, sustained lacerations of varying severity. The most seriously injured was Icarus, who was transported the next day to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky, where he was euthanized.
No humans were injured in the accident which was caused by the driver of another vehicle pulling out in front of them without seeing the trailer.
Michael was not at home at the time. The horses were being driven by his groom, and according to police at the scene, there was nothing that could have been done to avoid the oncoming vehicle.
Pollard had just acquired the ride on the stallion that was killed. He has enjoyed great success this spring at the upper levels, including last week's competition at Chattahoochee Hills CIC and Horse Trials in Georgia.
On Saturday morning, the injured horses are all in various stages of recovery at the Pollard Eventing Training Center in Dalton, GA.
The 14-year-old grey Thoroughbred gelding Icarus, owned by Michael and Nathalie Pollard, suffered a severed ligament and deep lacerations surrounding his right hind fetlock joint.
Following intensive treatment at home, Icarus was shipped to Rood and Riddle for surgery. Despite every effort by Dr. Chris Newton and his team, the extent of injuries presented no other option but to prevent the horse further pain.? Michael Pollard was with Icarus; he drove the horse to Lexington.
"Fly" to those who knew him, Icarus came to the team in 2009 as a Preliminary horse and successfully ascended to Advanced with Nathalie. Some of his many notable achievements include winning the 2009 Jersey Fresh CCI***, the Zeppa International Trophy, a 19th place finish at the 2011 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, and a Land Rover High Performance Grant to compete at 2011 Land Rover Burghley International Horse Trial in England. Fly also competed at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event last month.
In mythology, Icarus was a boy who could "fly"; however, his wings were made of wax and melted when he flew too close to the sun.
Schoensgreen Hanni (Hanni), a nine-year-old German Warmblood mare owned by Nathalie Pollard, suffered some superficial cuts but is not expected to miss any work in her preparation for Bromont CCI3* June 8-10th in Canada. The mare won the Advanced A division of The Fork Horse Trials in Norwood, NC in April and was Pollard's mount in the Pan Am Games.
Jude's Law (Jude), 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse Gelding owned by Michael Pollard and John Bryant, has minor cuts that required stitching but should be able to return to work in a few weeks. The horse won the Southern Pines Advanced-A Horse Trials in North Carolina in March with Pollard.
Carl Bouckaert's Raphael, who won the Chattahoochee Hills Open Preliminary division last week, survived with just some bruising and will be given time to recover from the shock before returning to work.
Little Star, a brood mare, suffered cuts to her hind legs and is expected to make a full recovery.
Biographies of some of the horses are available on the Pollard Eventing web site. Photos of some may be seen on the Pollard Eventing Facebook page.
The horse industry feels the pain of Ruth Armstrong, her family and connections on the loss of the stallion VDL Ulando H who died at the scene as a result of head and neck trauma. "He was the love of my life, an athlete and a gentleman and deserves a good send off," said Ruth of her 11-year-old Dutch-bred Canadian Warmblood registered and approved stallion (Corland x Fanietta - Ahorn).
Michael and Nathalie Pollard expressed their grief over the loss of Fly in a press release on Sunday morning:? "He was the best horse in the world who just never quite made it -- mostly my fault, and certainly not his. He brought me out of relative obscurity. He was just a special soul and everyone that worked with him felt the same. He was a family member and it will not be the same without him in the barn," Michael commented.
Nathalie added, "My heart is really broken. I have loved this horse since the day I laid eyes on him eight years ago at the Kentucky Horse Park.? (Fly) was stunning, and radiated beauty from the inside out. ?He was an exceptional athlete who never once quit or let us down. He was a good man with a heart of gold. He was my friend, and his absence will be felt painfully for some time."