New Zealand eventer Emily Cammock has lost her horse Dambala after he aggravated an injury on the cross-country phase of the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day-Event in Lexington on Saturday.
The 15-year-old thoroughbred-cross gelding, who earlier this year won New Zealand’s Eventer of the Year title, sustained damage to his suspensory ligament during the cross country.
Cammock told Eventing Nation that she was advised by veterinarians that the injury would only be able to be rehabilitated for retirement. “Unfortunately, Oscar is not much of a spectator and rapidly returns to his wild state of his early life running free on Ngahiwi Station in NZ when he is not in work.”
She told EN that the decision to euthanise Dambala came after careful consideration for his welfare and support from the veterinary team. “He was the most honest, willing and trusting horse that always gave 150 percent. I feel honoured that he put his trust in me and together we made a pretty awesome team,” Cammock said.
“RIP my beautiful boy, may your spirit live forever in the horse capital of the world.”
The combination had completed the cross-country clear, but with 11.2 time penalties. He was withdrawn from the competition on Saturday afternoon.
“After the second to last fence I felt something wasn’t quite right and as we pulled up at the end of the course it was obvious we had a problem.”
Cammock had Dambala, by Telesun, for about four years, with the former showjumper coming to her via a student. She rode him for about a year before buying him. She intended to sell the horse after the RK3DE.
Cammock, in an update to Eventing Nation that provided more information on the injury and the reasons for her decision, said the horse had a poor prognosis.
She said the injury was always career-ending and on Saturday evening there remained hope that he could be rehabilitated for retirement, and a long-term home was available in Virginia for his recovery.
However, when the bandage was removed the next morning it was clear that no support was left in the suspensory structure, she said.
“I couldn’t even pick up his other leg. Oscar [Dumbala] is a wild man who has never been able to rehab in a box [horse stall].
The veterinarians told Cammock that he would never be sound in retirement and that his quality of life would be compromised, even if he could somehow make it through rehab.
“He is not a horse to stand around.”
Responding to those who voiced criticism of her decision on social media, she said: “If I thought that sending him to Plain Dealing Farm to attempt retirement was the best option, I would have done that.”
She is no stranger to long-term rehabilitation. Her 2008 Olympic hopeful, Southern Ben, sustained a tendon injury at Bramham in 2008, after which she flew him home to New Zealand for two years of rehabilitation.