Tragic loss of top US eventer RF Smoke on the Water

RF Smoke on the Water and Marilyn Little at the Kentucky Three-Day-Event last weekend.
RF Smoke on the Water and Marilyn Little at the Kentucky Three-Day-Event last weekend.

The horse who placed fifth in last weekend’s Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in the US has been euthanised following a stable accident.

Marilyn Little’s RF Smoke on the Water had been back at his summer base at Raylyn Farms in Maryland when he rolled in new bedding in his stable. He became cast against the wall, and despite the immediate help from farm staff and the horse’s long-time caregiver and Raylyn Farm team manager Emily Dufort, it was clear that Smoke had been injured during his struggle.

RF Smoke on the Water at the RK3DE.
RF Smoke on the Water at the RK3DE.

Veterinarian Dr Richard Forfa assessed Smoke and organised his transfer to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, into the care of Dr Martin Furr.

“Based on examinations, imaging, system chemistry panels and consultations with other veterinarians, Dr Furr suggests that Smoke had sustained undefined traumatic injury to his central nervous system while he was cast, possibly due to damage to the cervical or lumbar spine sustained during the ordeal,” Marilyn Little said in a statement.

“The tragedy of this day for myself and all of those that have been involved with this incredible horse that touched so many with his heart and life-loving outlook is indescribable. For me, Smoke was the most elegant of partners, a loyal teammate, and a truly wonderful friend.

“For others, he was a magnetic presence that you sensed was sure of himself in every way; his charismatic persona, can-do attitude, super-sized talent, thorough self confidence, prankster character, and acute awareness of his own stunningly good looks couldn’t help but make you smile.

“Whether he was mischievously kicking up his heels in a dressage test, attacking cross country (his favorite pastime) at age 7 with the skill and wisdom of a 12 year old, or making light work of the show jumping phase in his debut 4*, Smoke squeezed every ounce of fun out of every day and put everything he had into every moment.

“Though I am so thankful for the time that I had with him and feel so blessed to have been a part of his journey, I am stunned by his sudden loss, and devastated for the many people surrounding him whose hearts he had captured.”

Owned by Raylyn Farms and Phoebe and Michael Manders, RF Smoke on the Water (Samos x Zuchtbuch Rapaula by Rapaulo) was a nine year old Wurttemburg gelding. He put up an impressive performance in his first four star event in Kentucky last weekend, with a double clear that elevated him from 16th place after the dressage to finish on his dressage score of 52.5. He was one of the youngest horses in the field from 60 starters of whom 36 finished.

Marilyn Little with RF Smoke on the Water, left and RF Demeter at the RK3DE. Smoke was fifth, and Demeter finished sixth.
Marilyn Little with RF Smoke on the Water, left and RF Demeter at the RK3DE. Smoke was fifth, and Demeter finished sixth. © Abby Lang

Emily Dufort was also Smoke’s groom at Kentucky, and won the Shapley’s Sponsored Groom Award for the “Best Turned Out Horse in Dressage” as chosen by the Ground Jury.

Little said: “My greatest thanks to RF Smoke On The Water, the mightiest champion with the wings on his feet; You were the littlest horse with the biggest of names. Thank you for your heart, may you always know that you have captured mine. You are forever loved, and you will always be missed my friend.”

The below video shows RF Smoke on the Water’s journey to the Kentucky Three-Day-Event.

• Phillip Dutton’s Kentucky Mr Medicott aggravated an old tendon injury at the Kentucky Three-Day-Event, but should heal quickly, the rider said.

Mr Medicott, a 15-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding, had been third after the cross-country phase, but was withdrawn before the final horse inspection on Sunday. It was the pair’s first three-day-event together.

“He will be kept in light work, and we will rehabilitate the leg aggressively to get him back to what he loves to do as soon as possible,” Dutton said.

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