Tragic death of talented dressage horse


A SUCCESSFUL and talented dressage horse, Cornish Promise, who forged a notable partnership with rider Badr Al Omran, based at Hurstpierpoint, has tragically died. He was on course for major victories in Grand Prix dressage championship this year.

The 17hh bay gelding, a rangey Irish crossbreed with a huge heart, was also known affectionately at home as Norman. He was 16 years old and was out in the field enjoying sunshine and grass just before Christmas when he suffered from an aneurysm in his gut, resulting in a sudden and quick death.

His was an extraordinary story. Having been bought by owner David Gunner from dealer Molly Talbot they quickly established themselves in competition and shared many successes, having been placed third in a national championship at Elementary level. Due to changes in lifestyle, David sought to sell him and having re homed, but Norman was sent back to him due to not getting on with new owners. Then Badr Al Omran from Hurstpierpoint met Norman and fell in love with him and his quirky temperament.

After a period of work, they both started to establish themselves together as a partnership but not without some issues! Norman could be very difficult and would often nap and spin around whilst being ridden. He had a tendency to boil over in the arena and find everything too much.

So they started together at unaffiliated Elementary level and progressed to winning mediums in British Dressage competitions. Then Norman went lame and tests and scans, it became evident that Norman had damaged the tendon in his foot and had navicular syndrome in both front feet.

He underwent a course of medication and corrective shoeing followed by eight months’ box rest, which saw him return sound and back to competition.

In 2008 Badr and Norman became Area festival champions at medium level and placed at advanced medium level too. They began Advanced classes and Prix St George level. During 2009 Norman and Badr had various successes winning championships at advanced medium level at various venues and qualifying for regional and national championships. At this time some lameness problems returned and after periods of rest and changes to shoeing, they returned back to competition. In 2010 Norman started competing in earnest with Badr, winning at Intermediare level dressage. Then a second major disaster struck where his hock became infected and did not respond to antibiotics and had to be operated on. The hock became re infected and subsequent operations followed. Although it was a success, the vet warned he might become mechanically lame due to the scar tissue from the operation. He had only a 30 per cent chance of being able to return to dressage.

But Norman defied the odds again and came sound eventually, going on to win even more classes during 2011 achieving more than 70 per cent in Advanced classes before his sudden death.

He was a great horse and Badr believed they were on course to start Grand Prix competitions in 2012. Badr and Norman together overcame many obstacles and had a unique bond. During his dressage career Norman won 44 affiliated tests and 326 points, numerous unaffiliated classes and championships. A tragic loss.