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  Alive and Kicking! (When I can get a foot off the ground!!) - Kindly written for World of Horses by Karry Gardner
Dear Readers

MGB sadly passed away, head cradled in my arms, on Sunday 19th February 2006 at 9.15 am after a very short illness in her 28th year . The day before she had been executing half canter pirouettes in the school (only on the left rein though) to an audience of highly impressed parents . (i think they were a bit impressed). The day before that, the Boss had worked her for me and she had been "very good" that translates as quick marvellous really , at least, for her age , I think !
I spent many months contemplating this loss and couldn't ride at all. In fact, I couldn't even walk because grief had rendered me incapable of moving ; my back seized up badly and the only upside was that I had a very clean and tidy house and there were meals on the table every night and every one in the house put weight on . Even the ironing was done. Perhaps it was this that made my husband realise that clean and ironed shirts do not equal a happy wife and he indulged me by driving me the length and breadth of the country looking at horses. I had put a tentative advert in Horse and Hound offering a seven star home to the right horse and got scores of replies offering me all kinds of animals , none of which were MGB re-incarnated.

I think that people advertising horses for sale and putting "no time wasters" should take a long and hard look at themselves . Some of the respondents were genuine people , others shouldn't have been left in charge of a bike never mind a horse. All of them had overblown ideas of what their horse actually could do. Taking into account the "qualifications" some of these people boasted , some of them should have been in court for mis-representation of the Sale of Goods Act .

One horse I had vetted was supposed to be 15 and I later discovered was closer to twenty but more of that one later.

In the end, I crawled back into my pit and got to the point where I didn't want to leave the house.

Then in October 2006 , I bucked up a bit , contacted a lady called Sherene Rahmatallah, went to Portugal on holiday and ended up in Golega a week before the horse fair to try lots and lots of lovely Lusitanos , mainly stallions.

I could write pages about the encounters I had with breeders and trainers and horses but to cut a very long story short, I fell, "just a little bit"
in love with a rose dapple grey mare called Utopia (born 2001) . She was unusual because she was a mare and they don't often get broken in, just used for breeding foals.

I thought that I wanted her but I was so scared that at my age I couldn't handle such a young horse and a full blood at that. Also, she was a lot of money and also at my age, you can't sell your body except maybe for parts.

I did make tentative enquiries about her and found that her owner was in England, had MS and had to sell her because she could no longer cope with her but information was never very forthcoming and I let it go.

On the morning of my birthday , I awoke and was presented with four cards from my husband. The first was a birthday card for 2006, the second a Christmas Card for 2006 . Then a birthday card for 2007 followed by a Christmas Card for 2007. I was so low that I thought he wanted rid of me and started to cry.

Then I opened a parcel with a model of a lovely dapple grey Iberian type horse and my husband told me that the deal was all done apart from the x-rays from the VET and that Utopia was mine. He had done the whole thing behind my back and I was a horse owner once more.

I was ecstatic , and scared and exhilarated and all kinds of things and then I planned to go back to Golega to arrange to bring her home asap. Then I broke my foot !!! I did it whilst standing up after fixing my daughters internet connection.

The homecoming was delayed until Mothers Day 2007 (I visited Utopia at Lusitanus in the February and fell even more in love with her even though I was still walking on crutches) . Utopia bounced off the lorry and into my heart ,big time ,at around 8 pm that evening after being on the road for four days.

Taken back into the fold by Charlotte and the Boss, my lovely horse is coming on in leaps and bounds (that's not always metaphorically by the way) and I hope that we will get to compete this year although Charlotte may do the initial honours.

Riding Utopia (Tia as she is known) is like driving a Ferrari. When you learn how to handle her and take off the handbrake, she is so powerful and obedient and responsive , it takes my breath away . Not only that, but she is clever and kind in the stable too , when she's not flat out on her side snoring her head off that is because she likes her afternoon siesta, being European and coming from a hot country and all that. She's in love with Felix, Charlotte's Hanoverian horse and is a bit scared of coloured ponies because I think she thinks she should be herding them into a corral not working with them in clinics.

I know that I am biased but she is also one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. Dapple grey, long flowing mane and tail like a shampoo advert , 15.3 hands etc. She likes food more than she likes Felix and because she gets a lot of it on the yard , she is very, very happy and so am I .

I know that I have been lucky . To buy a horse abroad is a huge risk but I managed to do it and get exactly the horse I both wanted and needed .

My husband gave me the means, the Boss and Charlotte gave me the nous and the back up and after a very depressing period in my life, I am now back in the saddle and back on track with my life.

Forget all the advice that people give you when your horse dies, You can rant and rave and have nervous breakdowns , you have my permission to hit people who berate your misery for saying "but it's only a horse" and "will you replace her ?" . Try asking them "If your husband died, would you go out and buy a new one ?" and see what they say then!

RIP, MGB - I'll never ever be able to thank her for all that she gave me and welcome "Utopia de Santarem " - she's made me whole again !

Hope that updates everyone.

Kindest Regards,
Karry Gardner
Introducing the beautiful 'Utopia de Santarem' . . . More affectionately known as 'Tia'
To send your email question to Karry please click here
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