So the famous dressage horse Uthopia is to be sold at auction.
Old age is a bit of a lottery for any horse or pony. We commonly live until we are in our thirties these days and who can guarantee our welfare needs for a lifetime? At fifteen years of age, a horse like Uthopia may be older in his joints than many. Although he is immaculately cared for at his current yard, dressage is hard on the joints and his particular recipe for wellbeing might ideally involve an easier life in the future.
Who will buy him? Perish the thought that he is sold abroad to some up-and-coming competitor as a ‘schoolmaster’. Imagine the change! He will be used to travelling, but not to his new rider, a different climate and whatever demands being a schoolmaster will put on his ageing physique.
And even if he remains in this country, with the UK’s comparatively favourable animal welfare law, his future is not assured. The above scenario could also happen here, but who will look after him when he can no longer work? Celebrity seems to have little say in the matter: Hallo Dandy, who won the Grand National, ended up as a welfare case, as did 2000 Guineas winner Brigadier Gerard.
How many owners can claim, hand on heart, that they will take responsibility for their horse throughout its life, in sickness and in health? It’s amazing how many people still imagine that there are rolling acres and a warm stable somewhere, just waiting for their horse when he is too old to be worked or wanted any more.
Though it’s unlikely I will ever meet him, I wish Uthopia the best of luck. He is offered a retirement slot where he lives now – please someone, let him enjoy it!