The Olympics turned out to be an experience of a lifetime for rider and equestrian trainer Samantha Garry, when she proudly watched her horse, Spike, carry a Brazilian rider to achieve a bronze medal in the pentathlon competition.
The modern pentathlon is a sports contest that includes five events: pistol shooting, fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run. The competitors have never ridden the horses before.
Sam, who lives and works on the Selsey peninsula, had been thrilled when Spike, whose official name is Over The Odds, was selected for the Olympic event, from hundreds of horses from all over the country.
At Greenwich he was one of 18 horses chosen from 48 selected to be there to actually partner a pentathlete in the event.
She said: “We had the most amazing time, spending 10 days in Greenwich, and being part of the whole thing was a totally surreal experience. We were allowed to ride in the arena each day after the main show jumping and dressageevents had taken place, to get the horses used to it.”
Spike was chosen for the girls’ pentathlon competition on the Sunday. First he was ridden by an Italian girl, and then by the Brazilian girl who started in silver medal position, and after her ride, where she has two fences down, she moved up to gold medal position.
“She then finished with a bronze medal, which she attributed greatly to Spike,” said Sam.
She explained: “The standard of riding was quite poor, because you have to remember that these girls were competing in several different events and riding was not necessarily their strong point. In fact the two fences the Brazilian girl has down was one of the best performances.
“Spike had to go into the arena as Sam Murray of Great Britain was leaving to immense applause. But he took no notice and simply took his rider round. He was simply awesome. He was so good and he is not renowned for best behaviour and has been known to buck. But he behaved perfectly. He was the only coloured horse there and is now 17 years old. He has done some great things in his career, but this tops it all.”
Spike, who was originally a gypsy horse, is now back home, complete with two Olympic emnbroidered rugs. He is being given a rest and will lead out a few young horses before he is competes in a few indoor competitions.