I mentioned in my last post that I had a very early morning last week. I am not someone that happily gets up really early at the best of times and Jason even less so. Meeting a horse trailer at 3:45am is just way to early to start the day, but that is exactly what time it was when we met B-Rad. When you are working with commercial shippers you get used to the fact that they are going to come rolling up whenever it suits their schedule with very little consideration for your schedule. Thus Jason and I drug ourselves out of bed to greet B-Rad. I have to say it was worth it! He is a gorgeous horse both in looks and conformation and he has a goofy, cuddly personality that is irresistible.
B-Rad is owned by the same great family that owns Trillion, one of our other beloved residents. Trillion was a national champion hunter and B-Rad was destined to be an internationally competitive jumper. B-Rad was hand picked by Chris Kappler, winner of team gold and individual silver medals at the Athens Olympics in show jumping, to be his next international superstar. B-Rad made his way into the barn of Chris Kappler as a young horse and Chris was bringing him up through the jumper ranks. B-Rad was bred to be a show jumping star, he is a Belgian warmblood and is a son of Darco. Not only was Darco a top international show jumper himself, he was also one of the top ranked stallions in the world for producing show jumpers.
While B-Rad was being brought up through the jumper ranks Chris was experiencing phenomenal international success with his horse Royal Kaliber. With Royal Kaliber Chris won his Olympic medals, team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan American Games, competed on several winning Nations Cups teams, and won many of the most prestigious Grands Prix in the United States including the American Invitational. In 2003 Royal Kaliber was named U.S. Equestrian Horse of the Year and the American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year. I’ve listed some of Royal Kaliber’s accomplishments because everyone involved with B-Rad was expecting him to be Royal Kaliber’s successor. Those were going to be some big shoes to fill and by all accounts B-Rad appeared to be more than capable of eventually stepping into the role of international superstar.
There are so many ingredients that are required for a horse to be able to be truly competitive on the international stage. Of course they have to have the ability to jump a course of huge fences and have the stride to be able to negotiate the related distances between the huge jumps. Lots of horses that have the jump and the stride never make it to Grand Prix, much less the international level. You also need a horse that has the desire to not hit the jumps, that has the right temperament not only for the rigorous training but also to handle the constant travel, both nationally and internationally, they need to be brave enough to handle crowds and a wide variety of creative jump designs, they have to be willing to jump water cleanly, and they have to have the rideability and adjustability required to be successful at that level. Apparently B-Rad was the entire package.
Unfortunately B-Rad sustained an injury that eventually led to the end of his career as a big time show jumper. His team tried for almost two years to rehab him but it became apparent that his injury was not going to be able to hold up to the rigors of an international show jumping career. Instead of selling him his owners decided to handpick his next home and give him to the right people. They bypassed the large sum they could have sold him for in spite of his injury because they were concerned that it would be too tempting for someone to try to push him farther than he could physically handle. He was placed in his new home under the agreement that he could be competed in the jr/ao jumpers but no higher. If you’ve ever watched the high junior/amateur jumpers at places like the Winter Equestrian Festival you know those are some big jumps, equivalent in size to a smaller Grand Prix. My selfish thought is where was **I** when they were looking for his next home??!! I mean, I’m thrilled to host him in retirement but I would have been equally thrilled to ride him!
Although everyone involved with B-Rad was no doubt heart broken at the loss of his international career I am 100% positive that B-Rad was not! He became a part of a horse loving family that doted on him and spoiled him and he wound up in a home that any horse would have been thrilled to have. I have no doubt that B-Rad loved having his own person who adored him and loved on him every day and spent absolutely no time at all fretting over the fact that he never lived up to all of his potential.
B-Rad has also taken to retirement quite well his first few days! B-Rad technically doesn’t have to be retired as he is still sound and only 15 years old, however his young rider has started a new chapter in her life with going off to college. Since B-Rad is a family member along with Trillion he would never be for sale and they wanted him to go to a place where he could enjoy being a horse to the fullest and have a great time. Lucky B-Rad got to come and join his brother Trillion in retirement at our farm. We are excited to have B-Rad join us.
We have two more additions heading our way in the next couple of months and then we are absolutely, completely full to capacity. In the last two months alone we have had eleven horses added to our waiting list. I wish we had room for them today since they all sound like very special horses as well and it would be fun to be typing out their stories. That is one of my favorite parts of having a retirement farm, each horse has their own unique and special story, be it that of a big time show horse or a beloved family pet.