Chagall: a tribute from his dancing partner

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Tue, 16 Mar 2021 10:13

Chagall, the Grand Prix partner of FEI 5* Judge Isobel Wessels, has passed away at the age of 18. Isobel and the elegant Contendro x Galatea gelding were a prolific partnership winning Advanced Medium and Inter I titles at Stoneleigh and a Winter Championship Advanced Medium-PSG Freestyle double on their journey to Grand Prix. Here, Isobel pays tribute to the horse with whom she flew the flag for Great Britain at numerous CDIs.

Chagall 12/01/2003 - 12/03/2021

"It is with huge sadness that we bring the news of the loss of our beautiful boy Chagall. His enormous success in the arena and ten national titles is well documented. He was often referred to as the ‘gentle giant’ and this gentleness spilled over into every aspect of his life. Not only in the arena but in the stable, the field, the lorry he only ever wanted to please.

"Justin [Wessels] found him in Germany and even at four he was a little like a giraffe. We bought him together with the late Brigit Powell and from the first moment in the saddle I knew he was the one. His breeder told us how super sensitive he was and doubted that he would find the right rider, but Chagall and I were destined to become the best of friends.

"He was always wary of other horses so warming up was never easy but as soon as he was in the arena he shone. He was so beautiful to ride, soft and elastic and always lovely in the hand. Even when he was nervous he never failed to give and I think this is what came through to his many fans. We have received hundreds and hundreds of messages of condolence. In nearly all of these friends talk about how special he was, his elegance, his easy supple way and how he inspired them. This is his real legacy. He inspired me every day and what a joy to think he did the same for so many others too.

"He was truly a beautiful horse both inside and out. I owe him everything. Till we meet again my dearest friend."

Their partnership was truly harmonious and epitomised the meaning of ‘Happy Athlete’.
Stephen Clarke

“Along with the entire dressage community I was so sad to hear of Chagall’s passing,” says FEI 5* Judge Stephen Clarke. “Isobel trained this wonderfully elegant horse all the way to Grand Prix so beautifully. Their partnership was truly harmonious and epitomised the meaning of ‘Happy Athlete’. Their ‘signature halfpasses’ will always be remembered as a special highlight! My thoughts are with Isobel and Justin at this sad time”.

Photo © Kevin Sparrow