Jody Hartstone and Whisper warming up at a show in California recently. © Brigitte Voelk
The pair had been in the US for the past two months, and needed to qualify at either one of two shows later this month - a CDI World Cup qualifier in New York, or a CDI* show in Colorado.
However, a niggling injury to Whisper meant that he did not get as much work as Hartstone would have liked last month, and while the stallion is back in full work now, she did not think his fitness would be at the level required to make the long journey to either of the qualifying shows.
"I had the choice of a 5000km trek across the country to attend the CDI in New York, in intense humid heat, or a shorter 20 hour trip to Colorado," Hartstone said. However, she felt both options would probably be too much for the horse, whose build-up had not been as ideal as she had wished for.
"The mark required by ESNZ is a world-class mark, and I could justify taking the horse to the CDI only if I was almost certain to gain that score. If we didn't, it would mean another seven weeks in the US waiting for the next flight home," Hartstone said.
"I can't afford to have him miss the start of the breeding season in New Zealand unless he was a certain starter for WEG."
Whisper begins his five week quarantine next week in Kentucky and will be ready for breeding duties in New Zealand from the beginning of October.
Meanwhile, Hartstone, who is a protege of Dr Andrew McLean, is off to Britain to conduct clinics and ride problem horses for various clients.