A Tribute to Pinocchio: The Equine Star of Dressage

Every now and then, an exceptional horse who transcends the usual boundaries of its sport comes along. Pinocchio, the multiple medal-winning dressage partner of Sophie Wells, was one such equine luminary. This chestnut KWPN gelding not only dominated the international dressage stage but also left an indelible mark on both his riders and the equestrian community. Sadly, Pinocchio passed away at the age of 27, bringing to an end a remarkable career that was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Bearing the Torch at the European Championships

In 2009, Pinocchio and Sophie won three gold medals at the European Championships, held in Kristiansand, Norway. This historic achievement was the first trifecta by a British rider at grade V (then grade IV). Little did Sophie and Pinocchio know, this was just the beginning of an extraordinary journey filled with numerous victories.

Triumphant at the World Equestrian Games

Pinocchio proved his worth once again in 2010 when he won double gold at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA. Moreover, he became the first dressage horse to compete on the able-bodied team at the young rider Europeans, held in Kronberg, Germany.

Victorious at Home: London Paralympics

Two years later, at the London Paralympics, Pinocchio continued his winning streak, earning team gold and two individual silvers. His performance in front of home crowds cemented his reputation as a national hero. "He made my dreams come true," Sophie reflected, underscoring the profound impact Pinocchio had on her career.

An Unstoppable Duo: Sophie and Pinocchio

Sophie's tribute to Pinocchio painted a precious picture of a horse that was not only a world-class athlete but also a loving companion. "At just under 18hh, he was a gentle giant," Sophie said, adding, "He made my dreams come true, and I was lucky enough to literally do everything with him."

Pinocchio's Training and Retirement

Pinocchio's training wasn't without its challenges. He had initially failed a vetting due to numerous heart-related issues. However, his resilience saw him through, and in his retirement years, he continued to train other riders, including Emma Sheardown and Izzy Palmer.

Leaving Behind a Legacy

The gap left by Pinocchio's passing will be difficult to fill. For 16 years, Pinocchio lifted the spirits of those around him, spicing up the training yard with his vibrant chestnut coat. Izzy Palmer commented, "I was beyond lucky to ride Pinocchio."

A Final Farewell to a Dressage Icon

British Dressage said it best: "The dressage world has lost one of its brightest stars in Pinocchio." His historic partnership with Sophie, his service to younger riders, and his charm and grace earned him a special place in the hearts of equestrian fans worldwide. Farewell, Pinocchio, the gentle giant of dressage; you will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

(Article Source: Farewell to ‘one of dressage’s brightest stars’ who ‘made dreams come true’ Horse & Hound).