Phillip Dutton’s mount Woodburn, with whom he placed second at the 2010 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI****, was euthanized on the evening of Aug. 2 at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa. The 15-year-old gelding suffered from substantial internal bleeding, cause unknown.
“I have experienced so much disappointment and sadness this year, but this seems to have affected me more because of how good he was and how good he could have been,” Dutton said on his website, referring to the tragic fire at his True Prospect Farm in May that claimed six of fellow eventer Boyd Martin’s horses.
At 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 2, his groom, Emma Ford discovered Woodburn (Herewood The Wake—Princess Heights) in discomfort during morning checks at True Prospect Farm and found that he had a high fever. Dr. Kevin Keane arrived, stabilized the gelding, and upon speculating that Woodburn had internal bleeding, advised the team to move him to New Bolton, where he received blood transfusions and fluids.
“At that stage, it looked like he had lack of blood supply to brain because his eyesight wasn’t good, and he wasn’t walking well,” said Dutton, 47, who rode the New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding as part of the fourth-placed U.S. team at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.).
Veterinarians at New Bolton sedated Woodburn, owned by Ann Jones and Mardie Faucett, allowing him to rest for a few hours. “When he came out of sedation, it was clear he didn’t have control of his right side,” said Dutton. “It was then I made the decision to put him down.
“I don’t know where to start to describe how I feel about this. In this year we have truly experienced the reality of life and the consequences of tragedy,” he continued. “Most horse people understand the trust, love and respect that one has with a horse after a certain bonding time together. For those fortunate enough to ride around a four-star, this love, trust and respect is multiplied by 100. I have no doubt that I will never ride a better cross-country horse in my life.”
Woodburn and Dutton were also 12th in 2009 and 10th in 2008 at Rolex Kentucky. They were third at the 2007 Fair Hill International CCI*** (Md.), placed 18th individually at the 2010 WEG, and in 2008, sat in second place after cross-country at the Burghley CCI**** (England) but had to withdraw before show jumping due to a foot injury.
“I realize that this is part of the sport and life, and I feel very fortunate to have had Woodburn as a partner,” Dutton said. “But it is very difficult to accept his loss. He will be terribly missed.”
A necropsy will be performed to confirm the exact cause of the gelding’s illness.