It is with great sadness that we bring you the news of the passing of…
From a one-year-old underweight Spindles Farm rescue case suffering with a salmonella infection to dancing free doing dressage at The London International Horse Show, Dazzle’s journey has been nothing short of miraculous. The Horse Trust team are overjoyed to see progress Dazzle has made in his new home with Claire, her son Tom and of course the other people this striking pony has had an impact on in his life.
Dazzle’s life sadly started far away from the loving home he resides in now. In January 2008 RSPCA Inspectors and Police Officers found what has now been described as one of the most horrific cases of animal cruelty in UK history. Over 100 horses, ponies and donkeys were recovered but 34 were already dead.
As the closest charity we took in 14 of the sickest cases, one of those was Dazzle.
When we rehabilitated Dazzle our Director of Training, Charlotte, had just joined the team and instantly fell in love with him “he was an absolute sweetheart” she reminisces fondly. Their training included getting him to accept a rider and learn specific ques, he was so eager to learn, and they quickly knew he would make the perfect family pony. Dazzle was one of the lucky few that with our early intervention was set up for success. Eventually, when the time was right, we searched for the perfect new home for him. This is where Claire and son Tom come in.
Claire first spotted Dazzle at a Pony Club and immediately thought he was lovely and that if he ever came up for loan, they would just have to have him. It was years later that an opportunity did present itself and they jumped at the chance to take him home. After our Equine Care Officer, Steven did a routine home check and gave them the all clear, the next chapter of Dazzle’s story began.
Dazzle has gone from strength to strength performing at Pony Club Competitions representing OBH Hughenden at Novice Dressage level, going to Royal Windsor where they came 2nd in his in-hand Senior Showing and Dressage (SSADL) veteran class and qualified for the SSADL championships. It was at this event where they half qualified for London International Horse Show (LIHS) by placing as reserve champions.
This 2023 season is off to a flying start as they have recently qualified for the Barrier Animal Health Spring Festival (a huge competition in The Pony Club Calendar) by coming 1st in their class – we are crossing our fingers for them for the finals in February!
The journey to LIHS wasn’t plain sailing, as it is such a prestigious event, they had to compete through three rounds of competitions, thousands of entrants and there were certainly no other rescues like Dazzle. As reserve champions in their class at Royal Windsor they had narrowly missed their chance to compete at LIHS. However, the team were delighted when they received a surprise phone call the Thursday before the show that there had been a last minute drop out and this was their chance to shine.
A 4am start didn’t deter their high spirits on the big day and the stables were buzzing with a hive of activity and festive cheer as most competitors had adorned their stable with decorations and ribbons. Dazzle even got the chance to meet Father Christmas and wasn’t phased with all the bright lights, hustle and bustle or walking through a curtain of tinsel.
The competition itself went smoothly and they were extremely proud when he placed 15th. It is important to note how remarkable it is to have the opportunity to perform at LIHS, as everyone who made it there is performing at the top of their game.
Dazzle has continued to amaze us back at home too. Before lockdown he was helping a handicapped rider with weekly lessons and more recently has helped a lady called Chrissie achieve a bucket list dream of learning to ride. Claire explains “If I had £1 for every time someone asked if they could have him, I would be a millionaire!” she continues “he’s such a saint; he never puts a foot wrong, so safe to hack and foot perfect. Dazzle is truly a one in a million horse and considering his extremely cruel and neglected start it’s amazing how much he gives”.
When Dazzle isn’t making dreams come true or wowing judges and crowds, he can be found enjoying his dinner. His signature move, that never fails to make his family laugh, is that when he has finished his food, he rolls with his head in his bucket! A true character.
Before Dazzle found his forever home with Claire and Tom, he lived with a different family that loved him dearly, particularly Dad Jerry. When Jerry unfortunately became extremely poorly, he had one last wish to see his old friend Dazzle. Claire, knowing what a special horse Dazzle is and fully aware of the therapeutic benefits horses have on people and their lives, decided the right and best thing to do would be to hack the 2 hours to this gentleman’s home to grant him this final wish. Together they rode through the garden gate, up the patio steps and right up to the window where Jerry was waiting. They didn’t know then, but this would be last time he was able to stand, he put that final burst of energy into saying goodbye to this truly special horse that has given so much to so many.
We are honoured to have been part of this sweet rescue pony’s recovery journey. It has been amazing to see Dazzle, continue to spread his wings in his new home with Claire and Tom. It just goes to show what dedicated time, specialist care, love and patience can really do for rescue ponies and Dazzle is a shining example of why we work so hard and do what we do, and we certainly couldn’t do it without donations from our incredible supporters.
If you’ve been touched by Dazzle’s story and want to contribute to helping more horses like him, please donate by clicking the button at the bottom of this page so we can continue to care for the horses and ponies that need it most.