It was a roller coaster weekend for the Liverpool International Horse Show in Liverpool, England, from having a horse euthanized due to injury to evacuating several hundred horses and cancelling classes because of a multi-story fire in a nearby parking garage. There were also redemptive moments and beautiful moments, and Liverpool officials assured us they will be back next year, better than ever.
The first major incident of the show started when Dutch rider Sanne Thijssen’s lovely mare Sara Galotiere suffered a catastrophic injury during the CSI 4* jump-off on Saturday Night. According to witnesses, the mare just took off awkwardly and landed resisting to put pressure on her right hind. She was removed by horse ambulance from the arena and ultimately the decision was made to euthanize. The mare was 11 years old.
Nina Barbour, president of the Liverpool International Horse Show, said: “We offer our heartfelt and sincere condolences to Sanne, her support team, the Thijssen family and all connections of the horse.”
The cause was ruled to be a freak accident, and not a result of footing, conditions, or the rider’s performance.
In fact, in one of the most emotional and powerful wins of the year, Sanne came back Sunday afternoon and won the Voltaire CSI 4* Speed Class aboard her other mount, Bacardi.
“It was a remarkable and brave performance by Sanne,” said Nina. “Sadly, we didn’t get to celebrate her performance after she rode with such skill and determination to win a very competitive world-ranking class a day after she suffered such a terrible loss. It was truly outstanding, and she should be very proud of her victory.”
As Nina alluded to, the prize ceremony was not held for the Speed Class because of a quick moving fire in a parking garage nearly adjacent to the Echo Arena. The fire destroyed hundreds of cars, and its proximity to the arena and stabling required classes to be cancelled, people to be evacuated, and more than a hundred horses moved to safer locations. Truly an urban horse show’s worst nightmare come to life.
“All people and horses are safe and secure, and I thank spectators, riders and support teams for their understanding and co-operation during what was a difficult situation,” Nina Barbour commented after the fire. “My thoughts are also with those who have lost their vehicles and possessions as a result of the fire. I am very proud of our own teams who pulled together in the most demanding of circumstances, and managed to quickly and calmly evacuate all horses from the venue in a safe and controlled manner.”
As to what will happen in the years to come, Nina says the Liverpool horse show will absolutely survive this incident.
“We have worked very closely with the Echo Arena team over the last three years – their support and hard work has been integral to the event’s success to date, and our thoughts are with them, and the city of Liverpool. We are not going to let go of what we achieved in the first five sessions of the show, and we will be back to do it again next December.”
Other notable highs from the event included a three-way tie in the Puissance class at a shocking 7’2″ between Chris Megahey aboard Seapatrick Cruise Cavalier, Louise Saywell on Dassler, and Holly Smith aboard Quality Old Joker. The 7’2″ height was the fifth round of competition.
America-based Brit Amanda Derbyshire also knocked out a win at Liverpool in the CSI 4* 1.50m class aboard Luibanta BH in a time of 33.30 seconds.
“It is so special to to do this and win here,” Said Amanda after the class. “It is the first time I have jumped in England since I moved to America, and it was great that a lot of my family and friends came to watch.”
Speaking of the brilliant mare Luibanta (one of Amanda’s three leading ladies), Amanda had nothing but praise for the Irish Sport Horse. “The horse has done everything and more that we could have hoped for. She has been my best horse this year. She did two indoor shows in October, and then had a bit of a rest before I came over here. She never gets flustered. She is easy-going. Anything you ask her to do, she just seems to go ahead and do.”
After a dramatic weekend in Liverpool, our thoughts are with Sanne and all of her mare’s connections, all those spectators and New Years Eve revelers who lost their cars and possessions in the fire, and with the organizers who put so much into the show but had to weather some major storms. We know you’ll bounce back next year better than ever.