Andy Kocher’s Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final partner Navalo De Poheton broke his leg while competing in the Hickstead Derby in Hickstead, England, on June 24, and was euthanized.
“The organizers of the All England Jumping Course are sad to report that Navalo De Poheton, the ride of the USA’s Andrew Kocher, was fatally injured while competing in the Hickstead Derby today,” read a statement by the All England Jumping Course officials. “The 17-year-old gelding broke a leg on the flat, and despite receiving immediate veterinary attention in the ring he was not able to be saved. The Bunn family and the title sponsors Al Shira’aa expressed their condolences to the horse’s connections and praised the swift and professional reactions of the arena officials and veterinary team.”
Schuyler Riley started riding the Selle Français gelding (Cumano—Uzel De Poheton, Double Espoir) in 2009 and developed him from the young horse ranks to five-star grand prix competition. In 2016 “Navalo” competed in the junior jumpers with Katherine Bundy. Kocher first tried him in April 2017 and purchased him the following month. The pair picked up a number of wins during their partnership including the $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake (Pennsylvania), the $130,000 Ariat Grand Prix in Tryon, North Carolina, and the $100,000 Longines FEI Del Mar World Cup qualifier (California). In April this year Kocher rode Navalo in his first international championship at the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris.
“I am extremely heartbroken over the loss of my old friend,” Kocher wrote in a tribute on his Facebook page. “I had a plan to retire him after that round so he could retire as sound as possible. My plan was to offer him back to his breeder in France, because he also loved him. He is an older man and had come to the World Cup Finals and had tears in his eyes when he saw Navalo. So I thought this would be a perfect ending and reward for all the service he had given me.
“I was already filled with emotion knowing this would be the last round of his career and our partnership competing would come to an end,” he continued. “He came to the schooling area that day and warmed up sounder then ever and behaved better than he ever had. He was always so wild in the schooling area. I walked in the ring my eyes already watering up thinking about all the experiences we had had together. He jumped the first four jumps in perfect style and was laser focused on the task. After the first four jumps I thought my god we will be jumping clear today. We will be going out with bang! Then I felt something very wrong and tried to pull him up to get off. Being the soldier he was he was still going to the big wall jump 5. So I literally jumped off as he was still trying to canter and landed running beside him. The staff at Hickstead are very good. There were loads of people out immediately to help my beloved Navalo. They tried there best there was nothing they could do.
“I was such a wreck that I was taken away from the horse. Which was the right thing to do because there would have been no way I could have put him down. My friends helped me say goodbye to him, they cut a piece from his tail, I decided to have him cremated and that’s the last I will ever see of him. I’m very lucky to have so many friends that care about myself and the horse. I have received loads of messages, voicemails, and emails and so on. I will be returning all the messages within the next few days. ”