Kim Severson’s three-time Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event winner Winsome Adante died on Sept. 25. He was 26.
Bred in England by Janet and Chris Gooch and owned by Linda Wachtmeister for most of his career, the British Sport Horse gelding (Saunter—Juswith Genoa, Bohemond) was one of the United States’ top eventers of all time. He was inducted into the U.S. Eventing Association’s Hall Of Fame in 2015, earned the USEA’s Horse Of The Year title three times, and held the record for the USEA’s all-time high-point horse for a decade. The Chronicle named the gelding its Overall Horse Of The Year in 2004 and its Eventing Horse Of The Year in 2001.
Severson began her historic partnership with ”Dan” in 1999 at the preliminary level. During his ascent through the levels, he won the Radnor CCI3*-L (Pennsylvania) in 2000 and the Blenheim Palace CCI4*-L (England) in 2001.
In 2002, he topped the long-format Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and went on to represent the U.S. at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games (Spain), earning team gold and finishing sixth individually.
Severson and Dan captured a Kentucky win again in 2004 and then claimed an individual silver medal and team bronze at the Olympic Games (Greece) later that year. In 2005 they won Kentucky for the third time, and they also contested the Burghley Horse Trials in England, although a fall on cross-country ended their day there.
The pair competed at the 2006 WEG at Aachen, Germany, and capped their career with a third-placed finish at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (England).
Dan retired in 2007 due to an injury and lived out his days at Wachtmeister’s Plain Dealing Farm in Scottsville, Virginia.
Plain Dealing Farm Eventing, the business Facebook page for Wachtmeister’s daughters, Lucia and Benita Strini, posted this upon his death: “Our mom never had aspirations to own an Olympic level horse, or to travel the world to WEG and Badminton. She just wanted to have someone teach her kids riding lessons on their ponies and manage her farm. But along came Kim Severson and then along came Dan. Thanks to Dan, our whole family went on a crazy adventure deep into the world of Eventing and we’ve never looked back. This small, brown horse with the look of eagles in our backyard has earned his place amongst the greats. Danimal was a champion who took those who loved him on the most amazing journey and we will forever be grateful to him. He was an athlete. He was a horse of a lifetime. He lived out his retirement happily at Plain Dealing Farm with his pony friends Roanie and Sugar, always prancing along the fence line when we returned from shows as if to ask, ‘How was it?’ and ‘Welcome home!’ He will be happy with both of them by his side, and hopefully will find some fields to gallop in and some jumps to jump. I know that a lot of people will miss him, and it’s a special feeling to know that he touched so many lives.”
Severson wrote on her Facebook page: “So many of my firsts in the world of eventing came from my partnership with Dan: Badminton, Olympics, World Equestrian Games, Burghley, and more. Now, when I think back about our time together, two words come to mind: opportunity and gratitude. What an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity to find Dan, and then be supported in our partnership by so many wonderful people.
“Dan, thank you for your willingness to come to work every day, your unbelievable work ethic, incredible heart, and occasionally cheeky behavior that literally kept us all on our toes!” she continued. “Thank you for being my partner, friend, and making my childhood dreams and ambitions come true.”