Winsome Adante, the backbone of the U.S. eventing team for the last five years, has been retired due to injury.
With rider Kim Severson, “Dan,” owned by Linda Wachtmeister, led the U.S. team to the bronze medal and won the individual silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. He was a member of the 2002 gold-medal team from the World Equestrian Games (Spain) and won the four-star at Rolex Kentucky an unprecedented three times—in 2002, 2004 and 2005. He also competed on the U.S. team at the 2006 WEG (Germany) and won the 2001 Blenheim CCI*** (England) and 2000 Radnor Hunt CCI** (Pa.).
Dan earned the Chronicle’s Eventing and Overall Horse of the Year title in 2004 and the Eventing Horse of the Year in 2001, and was the U.S. Eventing Association’s Horse of the Year in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
In May, Dan and Severson finished third at the Badminton CCI**** (England), but when he returned to work after the event, he wasn’t quite right. He spent several months on stall rest, slowly returning to work. In July, he went to B.W. Furlong & Associates (N.J.) for an MRI of his left front, and in September he had some swelling in his left hind.
“Our vet, Dr. Keith Brady, just scanned his hind a week ago, which confirmed there was an injury to his suspensory,” said Molly Bull, who has been his groom along with Caroline Goldberg and Lili Bennett and now is head trainer at Wachtmeister’s Plain Dealing Farm. “By the end of last week Linda and Kim decided we would retire him.”
Dan, 14, had been living at Plain Dealing in Scottsville, Va., and was to head to Severson at her new farm as soon as he was ready for work.
Bull said she thought he was trying to tell them it was time to retire. “He would have had to stay in his stall for a long time, and he was getting pretty unhappy and bored,” she said. “Now he’s out all the time and much happier—he’s looking better, and when I ride by I can see him doing a buck or shaking his head.
“I’m just glad he’s OK,” she added. “It was really sad to turn him out; it was really emotional for all of us. We knew if we turned him out, it would still heal but not as fast. He’d have a better quality of life but never compete again.”
Severson still comes by at least once a week to feed him peppermints.
“He’s the horse of a lifetime for me,” said Severson. “It’s an injury we could have tried to bring him back from, but we didn’t want to break him down. The likelihood that he would be ready for the Olympics was very minimal, so what was the point? He’d done everything he was going to do.”
It’s been almost four months since Severson left Plain Dealing to start her own business. ”That’s been the hardest part, not having your friend in the barn,” she said. “But the best place he can retire is Plain Dealing—that’s where he’s always lived, and few places in the world are as nice.”
She acknowledged that without Wachtmeister, she would never have had a career with Dan.
“We did everything for the first time together—our first Badminton and Burghley and being on the team. Everything we did was really special,” Severson said. “It will be hard not to have him, but everybody goes through it.”
Wachtmeister said Dan was the horse of a lifetime for her, too, as well as his breeders, Janet and Chris Gooch of England. “I never dreamed a horse could take my whole family to the Olympics. Every single time I had a chance to stand in the winners’ circle with him it was so special, and I knew it might not happen again,” Wachtmeister said. “I’m just so proud of him.”
Dan will continue to live in the paddock he’s always occupied, in the middle of the farm, next to the cross-country course. “It’s not like he will ever be forgotten,” Wachtmeister said.
Wachtmeister hopes to officially retire him in a ceremony at the 2008 Rolex Kentucky CCI.