Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

We’ll Miss Dan

Kim Severson’s partnership with Winsome Adante was one of those perfect confluences of horse and rider who seem to have been made for each other. Always a threat to win, wherever they went, they surely earned a spot among eventing’s all-time greats.

But an era ended in early November when Severson and Dan’s owner, Linda Wachtmeister, decided to retire him following an injury (see p. 128). Dan, 14, had nothing left to prove, and his owner and rider put away any further dreams and aspirations for the welfare of the horse.
PUBLISHED
WORDS BY

ADVERTISEMENT

Kim Severson’s partnership with Winsome Adante was one of those perfect confluences of horse and rider who seem to have been made for each other. Always a threat to win, wherever they went, they surely earned a spot among eventing’s all-time greats.

But an era ended in early November when Severson and Dan’s owner, Linda Wachtmeister, decided to retire him following an injury (see p. 128). Dan, 14, had nothing left to prove, and his owner and rider put away any further dreams and aspirations for the welfare of the horse.

“It was an easy decision,” said Wachtmeister. “I had hoped he would do the Olympics again, but this was the right decision for him.”

Dan loved his job, regularly finishing four-stars 10 to 15 seconds fast. When they won Rolex Kentucky for the third time in 2005, it was by 17 points. They were one of the rare combinations that could have done a five-star.

But no one quite expected such things from the English-bred Thoroughbred 10 years ago.

When Severson was the Chronicle’s Horseman of the Year in 1999, after winning the Rolex Kentucky CCI*** with Over The Limit, she listed the horses she had in her stable, then mentioned one more, “the only one who isn’t really working out.” That was Winsome Adante. He was a preliminary horse then, and he’d spent most of the year out of commission with ankle surgery.

“If you really break it down and look at him, you wonder why you bought him,” said Severson in 2001. “The first time [USET Chef d’Equipe] Mark Phillips saw him, he said he was built downhill, carried his head high, and was probably never going to win the dressage. You wonder how he can do his job, but there’s something about him. I just liked him, and it’s a feeling I get about a horse, his heart and the overall picture.”

ADVERTISEMENT

So many horses may be beautiful movers or phenomenal jumpers, but Dan had something less obvious and less common, that most appreciated but hard-to-determine quality of an event horse: heart.

When Dan was the Chronicle’s Eventing and Overall Horse of the Year in 2004, Wachtmeister said, “He’s not the most beautiful horse, and when you see him in his paddock, there’s nothing special about him. But when he’s fit and braided, he has this fire and energy and love of what he does, and that’s what makes him special. If people love and admire him, it’s that that they see in him.”

The Winsome Adante team has set the standard for excellence for a long time, and they did so again by retiring him with class.

Sadly, horses’ lives and careers are much shorter than their human counterparts. Winsome Adante’s name will never again top the scoreboard at the Rolex Kentucky CCI, but Severson and Wachtmeister will always remember those moments at the end of a hard week in Lexington, with the spring breeze fluttering their ribbons and cameras snapping as everyone admires what was accomplished by an unlikely-looking horse.

While horses’ careers can’t last, riders must go on, and Severson, 33, has years of international competition still in front of her. Not many people win a first four-star at the age of 28, but I’ll bet she still has some of that fire that she shared with Dan in her.

Heading into an Olympic year, Severson’s prospects for a top mount look tenuous, as her sponsorship with Plain Dealing has come to its natural end. Dan will never be replaced, but hopefully Severson will find the next horse and sponsor to take her where she’s proven she belongs.

Beth Rasin

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse