Leading Irish dressage horse Vancouver K retired

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Vancouver K, Ireland's best-performed dressage horse, has been retired at the age of 19.
Vancouver K has been retired at the age of 19. “This horse has more heart than anyone can imagine and at 19 he still tries to give me everything,” rider Judy Reynolds said. © Joe Reynolds

Ireland’s best-performing dressage horse Vancouver K has been retired from competition at the age of 19, and will be missing from the Irish team at the Olympic Games.

His retirement was announced by his Kildare rider Judy Reynolds. Together they reached heights never before seen by an Irish dressage combination, inspiring a new generation of Irish dressage riders with record-breaking performances across the globe.

Reynolds and Vancouver K — known as JP at home — represented Ireland in an Olympic Final, a World Championship Final, a European Championship Final and three World Cup Finals. Vancouver K regularly smashed Irish Dressage records and currently holds all three Irish International record scores in Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle To Music.

Their breath-taking performance at the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam was key to helping the Irish team to make history and qualify for the Olympic Games for the very first time. Sadly, the delay to the Tokyo Games because of Covid-19 to 2021 meant that another Olympic Games was just out of reach for Vancouver K as he approaches his 20th birthday. Ireland will still have a Dressage team at the Olympics in Tokyo, with the final combinations set to be named in the coming weeks.

Since the emergence of Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K, who is owned by Judy’s parents Joe and Kathleen Reynolds, dressage has become Ireland’s fastest-growing equestrian discipline, with a new generation of Irish riders now believing that they can follow in the footsteps of Judy and JP and make their mark on the international dressage stage.

“I know I have always said that JP would decide when it was time to retire but I’ve had to make that decision for him,” Reynolds said.

“This horse has more heart than anyone can imagine and at 19 he still tries to give me everything. Too much. I’ve decided that it’s time to stop asking.

Judy Reynolds waves to the crowd after a stunning performance saw her finish fourth in the 2017 World Cup Final in Omaha with Vancouver K. © Erin Gilmore/NoelleFloyd.com

“What a trip it’s been. A good horse can carry you all around the world and back again. One Olympic Final, three World Cup Finals, a WEG Final, a European Championship Final. A good record for any horse but a great one for a horse that many thought wasn’t good enough,” Reynolds said.

“Many people may ask why I’ve waited until now to make this decision but the fact is JP still wants to work and we have given him every chance to be able to perform on the world’s biggest stage one more time but alas it is not to be.

Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K.
Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K.

“It has been a massive team effort over the years to allow JP and I to perform, my parents, Patrick, Libby, Johann, farrier Errol, my vets the late Dr Stihl, Dr Hülsey, Dr Beeke, Marcus and Davide and many many more people along the way.”

Along with his incredible performances at Championship level for Ireland, Vancouver K scored major international wins at Achleiten and Fritzens-Schindlhof in Austria, Dortmund in Germany, and at Pennsylvania and New York in the USA.

Vancouker K, a KWPN son of Jazz, from Phantasia (by Olympic Ferro), was bred by G.M. Korver in Harmelen, The Netherlands.

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