I get a lot of press releases. They come in the mail, by email, by fax. I try to read them all.
Some come from horse sports publicist Chris Stafford in Kentucky. They're usually good news: one of the riders she represents might be announcing a new sponsor. Client Heather Blitz, the highly-ranked dressage rider, may have done something incredible (again). Client Marilyn Little-Meredith is setting the eventing world on fire--and might even be headed to London for the Olympics. That's the kind of news I expect from Chris Stafford.
It's Memorial Day weekend and I really wasn't expecting press releases from anyone.
And I wouldn't be expecting to see Chris Stafford in the incoming email once, let alone three times.
And none of the news has been good.
As you have probably read, Michael and Nathalie Pollard of Pollard Eventing in Georgia have had a terrible tragedy. Six of their horses were in a trailer wreck on Friday morning near their training center. One horse, the warmblood stallion VDL Ulando H, did not survive the wreck.
A second horse, the stunning gray Thoroughbred eventer Icarus, was euthanized the following day at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky after his severed hind leg ligament injury was appraised. (See earlier story on The Jurga Report.)
Tonight, the news is bad again. A third horse, Jude's Law, was transported to Rood and Riddle from Georgia. The Rood and Riddle veterinary team, led by sport-horse specialist Dr. Chris Newton, admitted Jude immediately for surgery, where he was diagnosed with a ruptured cecum, a portion of the horse's large intestine.
Dr. Newton also worked on Icarus on Saturday. On Friday, Rood and Riddle's Facebook page estimated that it had been the clinic's busiest day--ever.
[VIDEOSINGLE type="youtube" keyid="w8P0rJlCJ98", width="560", height="344"]
This description of the horse's digestive tract is from the Glass Horse: Horse Owner's Guide to Colic
CD-ROM from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine; it describes the location of the cecum.
"This is a nightmare that I can't seem to wake up from. This horse was so special to me and yet at the moment I just feel numb. He looked like he was going to be fine in a few weeks. I am absolutely crushed," was Michael Pollard's comment in the press release.
About Jude's Law
Jude's Law was owned by Michael Pollard & John Bryant. The 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding joined the Pollard Eventing Team in July 2011. He competed at the Advanced level with his previous rider, Beth Temkin, including at the Rebecca Farm CIC***. He was formerly owned by Hilary Bates, who rode him at Training Level.
Under Michael Pollard, he was runner up at the Richland Park CIC 2* in 2011.
This season Jude's Law won the Pine Top Spring Advanced Horse Trials and the Southern Pines Advanced Horse Trials before going to Jersey Fresh earlier this month to finish runner up in the CCI3* there.
Jude's Law was one of 20 horses still in contention to represent the United States in eventing at the 2012 London Olympic Games and was the ranked third in the nation by the US Eventing Association (USEA) through the first half of this year.
The aftermath: what comes from this?
The top ranks of US eventing are gutted by the loss of stars like Icarus and Jude's Law. But more than that, every horse owner's heart aches for the loss of horses under painful, stressful circumstances. This isn't supposed to happen to any of us, and yet it does. A horse trailer can be a death trap for a horse on the highway. Not enough is said about trailer safety, although this accident was not the fault of the driver.
That said, just as a spotlight has been put upon riders to wear helmets for safety, we need to be reminding horse owners and transporters that when they take a horse on the highway, they are taking those horses' lives in their hands.? But much more than that, we need to educate the public--those other guys on the road--that a horse trailer is a vulnerable conveyance, and that slamming on the brakes is a dangerous option.
Did you ever wonder what an equestrian's publicist does?
I'm sure many professional riders and horse breeders think they don't need the services of a publicist. The retainer might be expensive. The clippings from press releases might be meager.
But Pollard Eventing found out this weekend what a publicist does. They share your news, and keep the world--through people like me--informed. It's someone to keep on your speed dial. It's someone riders hope they will never need to tell a story like Pollard Eventing's tragic weekend. It's someone who does their job for you, whether you're having your greatest day, or your worst. They are needed for both possibilities. Sometimes they're needed in the middle of the night. Sometimes they're needed halfway around the world.
Sometimes they're just needed.
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