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International Small Tour, British Youth team and triple FEI Para European gold medallist horse Abira was sadly put to sleep on Tuesday 11 August. He was 20 years old.
Owned by Pammy Hutton, the gallant gelding who helped launch the international career of Charlie Hutton, represented Great Britain at two FEI Junior European Championships, two FEI Young Rider European Championships and later achieved para glory with Suzanna Hext at the 2017 FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Gothenburg (pictured above).
The charming, Danish-bred Abira (Don Pérignon x Dolomit) was a central part of the Hutton family and the Talland School of Equitation for many years. He was ridden to success not only by Charlie, but also his sister Pippa who competed him at FEI Young Rider level, whilst Pammy partnered him at Premier Leagues and the National Championships.
He touched so many people’s hearts and I am truly grateful for the journey I shared with him.
“Today we said goodbye to a horse of a lifetime,” said Charlie, of Abira who remarkably overcame two colic surgeries during his career. “Abira was a true survivor, he had the heart of a lion and the courage of a tiger. He touched so many people’s hearts and I am truly grateful for the journey I shared with him. Thank you Abira for teaching me so much. Your grit and strength will never be forgotten.”
Charlie and Abira were selected for four FEI Youth European Championships, flew the flag at a total of 20 internationals and famously won the Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle in front of a full house at Hartpury during the 2010 NAF Five Star Winter Championships (pictured above).
In 2015, the big-hearted gelding was paired with British para rider Suzanna Hext. Suzanna had previously evented to two-star level before an accident in 2012 while riding a young horse left her paralysed from the waist down.
“Heaven gained a special star today,” said Suzanna on Facebook. “Heartbroken and slightly lost for words. You are my world, Abira, and my everything, 'thank you' will never sum up quite how grateful I am to you for giving me my life back and helping me to believe in myself again. You’re truly one in a million and a horse of a lifetime.
You are my world, Abira, and my everything, 'thank you' will never sum up quite how grateful I am to you for giving me my life back and helping me to believe in myself again.
“I have so, so many fond memories of my time with you and your cheeky Abira-isms! Right from the first day I sat on you, and I thought I was floating, it was like nothing else mattered anymore. Our partnership has been my anchor. But I know you’ll be looking down on us, and telling us to pick ourselves up and keep loving everything in life.
“I’ll never forget coming away with three gold medals at the Gothenburg Europeans on you. You grew a hand through the archway on the first day, and said ‘look at me’ and said to me ‘let’s do this’... Totally breath-taking, and on the final day when my body was in pieces you took over the reins and showed me the way. As soon as the music came on you knew what to do.”
2006 – with Charlie Hutton competed FEI Junior level, representing Great Britain at Vejer de la Frontera and Wouwse Plantage CDIs. Won at Le Touquet CDI. British team at the FEI Junior European Championships.
2007 - competed at Le Touquet and Hickstead CDIs. British team at the FEI Junior European Championships.
2008 - won the PSG and Young Rider team test at Keysoe Premier League. Top-five placings in Young Riders at Saumur CDIPJYR. Won PSG at Addington Premier League. Won Young Rider Team Test at Somerford Premier League. British team at FEI Young Rider European Championships.
2009 - competed at Saumur CDIPJYR. Won Young Rider Team Test at Addington Premier League. Won PSG at Wellington Premier League. Won Inter I at Hickstead Premier League. Top-five placings Small Tour at Hartpury CDI.
2010 - won the Superflex Intermediate I Freestyle at the NAF Five Star Winter Championships. British team at FEI Young Rider European Championships.
2011 - top-ten placings Small Tour at Hartpury CDI. Competed Hickstead CDI at Small Tour
2012 - competed at Addington CDIY and Moorsele CDIJY with Pippa Hutton.
2015 - with Suzanna Hext: top-five placings at Hartpury, Bishop Burton and Bury Farm CPEDIs.
2016 - top-three placings at Waregem CPEDI. A hat-trick in the Grade II at Bishop Burton CPEDI.
2017 - victory at Waregem CPEDI in the Grade III. Swept the board at Hartpury CPEDI. Won Grade III Team, Individual and Freestyle at the FEI Para European Championships in Gothenburg.
Photo © Kevin Sparrow