In the run up to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup next week, Eventing Worldwide has been discovering the stories behind the competitors taking part. In this article, Eventing Worldwide reporter Georgia Dixon shares the story behind her championship ride Corrib Blue Vinney.
Vinney (Corrib Blue Vinney) has a long and complicated story behind his journey to the Mitsubishi Motors Cup Championships that makes me feel inspired, even as the rider. I will try and keep it fairly short, but he really is a special horse, both to myself and his owners – Lynn and Lisa Lewis.
His Badminton journey actually began well before the Championships were introduced, when he was produced for Goresbridge Sales in 2006 by Ann and Tom Maguire, and then bought by Janet Green for her old friend, the late Jean Gow. He was bought by Janet Green to eventually become her next four-star horse. Janet and Jean had already together produced and ridden a few horses (Paramount, Just Tallulah and Felix The Cat) around Badminton 4* before buying Vinney and he was to be their final attempt at producing another one. Vinney was also bought to be a fun horse for Jean to have a play on and she eventually picked eventing back up in her 50s on him!
After starting his career off well, being placed 9th at the 4YO Young Horse Championships with Simon Grieve and then 6that the 5YO Young Horse Championships the following year with local rider Marcus Reid.
He then suffered a terribly tragic accident in 2009 with Jean on board. Whilst hacking around Llanrheadr on Waterfall Road, the ground underneath them opened up due to a sink hole and both Vinney and Jean fell into it. Vinney managed to scramble himself out of the hole, meanwhile Jean had been knocked out and luckily she was found by her neighbour, although found to be in a daze.
Vinney sustained some serious injuries from the accident and was intensely lame – he had to be taken home in the trailer due to being too injured to walk back. Under the careful care of Jean and Frynwy Equine Vets, Vinney’s long journey back to health and fitness began, however, the thought of him ever eventing again was slim at this point.
Heartbreakingly, for Jean the devastating accident had taken its toll on her own health. Two months on from the accident she was tragically and shockingly diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour. Jean very sadly died five months after and never rode or saw her beloved horse, Vinney return back to complete soundness and fitness.
One of Jean’s best friend’s, Lynn Lewis took Vinney under her care in 2010 and alongside her daughter, Lisa Lewis they slowly brought him back into work – unsure of whether he would come back completely sound and if he did, whether he would stay sound. Lisa began doing dressage on him again in 2011 and got some fantastic results. His first event after the tragic incident was later on in the year at the local event, Llanymynech. Lisa piloted him around to 3rd place – which was a very emotional day for everyone who knew him, his story and Jean. Lisa missed out on qualifying him for Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Cup 2012 by one unlucky time penalty. However, in 2012, Vinney trotted up lame again. Six months later after having the time off in the field to mend and through the help of farrier Jim Blurton he was once again found to be sound. Although Vinney was sound, Lisa’s preference of dressage over eventing meant that they didn’t event again. However, still to this day they compete up to Medium Level dressage.
I was then lucky enough to be given the ride on Vinney in 2014 to give him another chance at doing what he loves, eventing. When I first started riding Vinney, it was purely for some fun for all of us, there were no expectations for either of us and we just hoped that he would stay sound. I am now in my third season eventing him and (touch wood) he has been on top form and remained sound thanks to the hard work of Lynn and Lisa.
I have done in total 15 events on him now – out of the 15, he has been placed in the top ten 13 times. Last year, Vinney and I decided to have a go at qualifying for Badminton after attaining a number of Regional Finals. We never expected that we would actually make it. Vinney and I then went and won the BE90 Regional Final at Sapey last year, securing our spot at this year’s Championships. A victory we couldn’t quite believe.
Although Vinney never made it to the 4* as he was originally hoped to do, he has still made it to Badminton despite all of his injuries and traumas. I feel so proud being the lucky rider who was allowed to experience this with him after all of his troubles and I am forever grateful to Lynn and Lisa for letting me. They do a lot of the work with him while I am away in London studying at university and without them, Vinney and I would never have even had this opportunity. I know people say you’re biased with your own horses, but after everything he has been through, he means so much to so many people and he truly is a special horse. I’ve really found a bond with him and that means so much to me as a rider.
His owner Lynn Lewis said: “Vinney is and always will be a very special horse. We are incredibly proud of him and incredibly proud of Georgia who loves him and has a very special bond and relationship with him. We all certainly hope that Jean will be looking down and although it may not be the Badminton she envisioned for him, after his long and hard struggle to stay sound, being at Badminton and riding on the course at all would have made her very proud, he is a lovely, brave horse and we are privileged to be part of his journey.”