Farewell Louis D'Or
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Henriette Andersen’s former top ride Louis D’Or has sadly passed away at the age of 23.
The Danish-bred son of Heslegard’s Louis was a star player in Henriette’s national and international career and a much loved member of the family at the Oxfordshire home of Henriette and her husband, Ulrik Molgaard.
Henriette and Louis’s long and illustrious career spanned 12 years - from his first national title in 2002 when they won the Elementary Open at Stoneleigh, to his final international competition in 2014 at Barcelona CDI3*. The years between, they amassed numerous successes both home and abroad including three consecutive appearances, from 2009 to 2011, at the Olympia FEI World Cup™ Qualifier, placing ninth, eighth and 15th respectively.
Throughout his career, from young horse classes to competing on the world stage, the delightful, compact bay gelding attracted a legion of fans who were won over not only by his talent and striking looks, but also his evident charm.
Foaled in 1997, Louis D’Or was later bought by Henriette’s long-time friend Paula Potter as a three-year-old. “I was looking for an advanced horse to replace a horse that I’d just lost,” she says. “Louis was at Henriette and Ulrik’s and they said you must come and look at him. He was small, hairy and just-backed – not what I was initially looking for – but I could tell how lovely his temperament was and we simply clicked straight away.”
Louis started his competitive career in 2001 as a four-year-old under Paula. She competed him at Novice and Elementary, and also with much success in young horse classes. Henriette took over the ride in late 2002 – “I forgot to give him back,” she smiles - and during the next four years, they won the Elementary Open National Championship (2003) and the Advanced Medium Winter Championship (2005), before starting their international career in 2006.
He used to hack out with the school horses and the little children on ponies. He collected quite a fan club of people who’d see him when they came here to ride, and who loved to follow his competition career.
Throughout these early years, Paula remained very hands on with Louis’s management - in fact, after she’d handed the competition reins over to Henriette, she continued to take Louis home to her riding school on the outskirts of Coventry for his holidays and for fittening work. “He had an exceptional temperament,” she says. “He was a totally normal horse and used to hack out with the school horses and the little children on ponies. He collected quite a fan club of people who’d see him when they came here to ride, and who loved to follow his competition career.”
The year of Louis’s international debut – 2006 – he and Henriette showed consistently good results at Small Tour, achieving good placings at Saumur and Hartpury CDIs, as well on home soil at the National Championships. In 2007 they made their international Grand Prix debut at Hartpury CDI.
Top-five placings in the Grand Prix and Freestyle at the Nationals in 2009 preceded their Olympia debut at Christmastime that year, where in front of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic Kensington crowd they came twelfth in the Grand Prix and ninth in the Freestyle. This certainly helped to confirm their place as one of the top British combinations of the time.
“Watching them both at Olympia, I was just bursting with pride,” says Paula. “That I’d known Henriette for so many years, we had a good partnership and the horse had grown with us. It was a great feeling of achievement.”
In 2010, Louis developed further still. Following fifth in the Grand Prix and third in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the National Championships, he and Henriette travelled to France where they raised the British flag at Saumur CDI for winning the Grand Prix Freestyle with 74.15%. They later achieved a sensational sixth in the Grand Prix and eighth in the Freestyle at Olympia.
I hadn’t competed at Hagen before, I was there with my barely 16 hands horse amongst many of the world’s best, and he [Louis] just gave it everything. We got through to the Special and I couldn’t have been more proud of him.
Good placings amongst strong company at Hagen CDI4* in 2011 was undoubtedly a career highlight for Henriette. “That was one of the big ones for me,” she recalls. “I hadn’t competed at Hagen before, I was there with my barely 16 hands horse amongst many of the world’s best, and he [Louis] just gave it everything. We got through to the Special and I couldn’t have been more proud of him.”
Further exciting results that year at Wiesbaden, Hartpury and Hickstead CDIs, once again led to their third selection for Olympia where they were ninth in the Grand Prix and 15th in the Freestyle.
“Louis had a heart of gold and the most amazing temperament, and he always wanted to try and understand,” says Henriette. “He was never bought as a potential Grand Prix horse but, I think around the age of six or seven, I started to play with the collection and thought, ‘this is starting to look like something’. Interestingly, he was slow to learn the changes but they later became his party piece and he would never ever miss one.”
As a young horse, Henriette says Louis was a little lazy but as he progressed, so did his enthusiasm. “The more advanced he became, the sharper he got and he was just so eager to please. He was very laidback as a young horse but as soon as we moved to Small Tour it was a different kettle of fish, and he has never been lazy in a Grand Prix test.”
“He was a little trooper and so much fun to work with,” remembers Henriette fondly. “Every day, he would come out with a smile on his face and he would always let out a little squeal when I put my leg on, then off we’d go! Even on the third day of a competition, even if his body was a little tired, he would still be full of enthusiasm and give it a go.
Henriette also paid tribute to Louis on Facebook saying, “Losing one of the VERY special ones has broken my heart. The sky has gained a very bright and shiny star. Thanks for everything Louis, I will remember and treasure all the amazing times we had together forever.”
That’s how I will remember him... King of the Castle.
“Everyone loved Louis as he was a kind, jolly person and such a special horse,” concluded Paula. “He spent the last three years with me at home enjoying retirement with his Shetland pony friend. In one of our fields there is the ruin of a castle. I have a recent photo of him standing on the hill by that ruin, and that’s how I will remember him… King of the Castle.”
Photo © Kevin Sparrow