Kristi Nunnink announced today, April 18, that she’s retiring four-star mare R-Star from eventing because of issues with the horse’s heart. The mare was entered to compete in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** next week.
“We noticed it [at Rolex last year] in the holding box afterwards when she first came off the course,” Nunnink explained. “She would throw some irregular heartbeats. We took her to U.C. Davis [Calif.] and did a lot of research. She basically only threw them when she was in light work, and when she galloped, her heart would beat really well.”
Nunnink and the 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman—Marisol, Corofino) finished eighth at last year’s Rolex and went on to win the Rebecca Farm CIC*** (Mont.) and travel to the Pau CCI**** (France), but the pair retired on cross-country.
They won the Galway Downs CIC*** (Calif.) this March and shipped to Pennsylvania to finish their preparations for Rolex.
“She felt great all year, and I came back to Pennsylvania and was galloping Nelson’s Hill, and she just felt horrible,” she said. “I had the New Bolton Center [Pa.] team come out and recheck her, and she’s now throwing beats when she gallops hard, which means her heart is not getting enough blood, and she becomes exhausted.
“We just did the final testing yesterday, and I spent probably an hour and a half on the phone this morning with Virginia Reef, the top coronary expert there,” Nunnink added. “My husband [Randy] and I just decided it wasn’t worth the risk to try and keep running her.”
“Rosie” will still be able to be ridden, and Nunnink said she might try show jumping or dressage with her longtime partner. She’s also hoping to breed the mare.
Nunnink, 52, Auburn, Calif., said she couldn’t choose a favorite memory with Rosie, who took her to Rolex four times, as well as the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** (England) and Pau.
“I feel like everything with her has been a favorite memory,” she said. “Burghley was really amazing. Just everything she’s ever done. She’s so brave, and she jumps so well. We love her so much. She’ll have a great life and hopefully someday somebody will be out there on some really hot babies of hers and do really well.”