A career-ending health problem for her leading horse has scuppered Vanessa Way's dreams of representing New Zealand at the world equestrian games this year.
With a heavy heart, the fulltime Oakura dressage rider and coach has retired KH Arvan from competition after he failed to recover fully from a wind operation on his throat.
"He hasn't been feeling himself since the North Island Championships in January," Way said.
"I couldn't have asked for a better horse . . . there is no horse as generous as he is, and he has taken me to the other side of the world and back, and three times to Australia. He has done me proud."
Fifteen-year-old Arvan has been with Way since he was two, and together they have won every major title from novice through to grand prix.
"In 11 years he has never let me down and I want to finish on a high."
They are doing just that, having won the New Zealand Grand Prix Championship and North Island titles and just last weekend finishing as reserve Dressage Horse of the Year.
"I want to remember him like that . . . and I want everyone else to remember what a wonderful horse he is."
Way said as soon as Arvan heard the music for his last class at the Horse of the Year Show, he lifted as if to say "I know this, I can do it".
But earlier in the show, the stress of competing in tests had been obvious.
"He will never be sold, and will be used to help me teach pupils."
She said the decision had lifted a huge weight from her shoulders.
"I have loved my season, and so enjoyed it, particularly the support of Bill Noble [who won Dressage Horse of the Year with Airthrey Highlander]."
Equestrian Sports New Zealand high performance director Sarah Harris supported Way's decision.
"Arvan hasn't recovered as well as was hoped from a wind operation and Vanessa knows only too well just what sort of marks are needed to be competitive at championship level. It is a wise choice."
Harris was confident she would see the top dressage rider back in a national team.
"She has two very nice young horses coming through so she will be back. Vanessa is targeting the Rio Olympics with one of those horses, and looks on track.
"While it is a shame to not have Vanessa and Arvan at the world champs, we do have an exciting group of young riders and horse combinations coming through the dressage grades that will be competitive in the future."
Way extended a heartfelt thanks to all who had supported her, and promised that her next generation of horses would be competitive on the world stage.
- Taranaki Daily News
What name would you like to see the Taranaki rugby team known as next year?Related story: Change on cards for our team - no bull