Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts on Sapphire's Retirement...

Sapphire and McLain at the WEG 2010
 I was on my up to bed when I stopped at my computer to send a quick email to a friend.  Of course, that meant a quick perusal of what was new on Facebook. 

Dumb move, as the news that greeted me, the retirement of McLain Ward's magnificent mare Sapphire, pushed bedtime back a good hour and a half as I then needed to indulge reading coverage of her past triumphs, watch a slew of YouTube videos of past rounds, and peruse photos that I had of her from various competitions I'd seen her compete in.  Sadly, there were too few of these for my liking.

Why should this happy news be upsetting, you ask?  She's going out on top, she's recovered from her injured check ligament, and most importantly, she'll be able to indulge in as many Dunkin Donuts as she wants. (The Sainted Mare is violently jealous.) 

                      One of the Great Ones passing "The Greatest"

Selfishly, I'll miss seeing her in action.  When I expressed this to my husband, he said, "So what?  What's the big deal?  Athletes get old and retire all the time."  (This from a man who, at the World Cup in 2009, would not get me a snack as McLain and Sapphire were coming soon in the order and he did not want to miss them).

His comment left me incredulous.  "Haven't you ever been sad when one of your favorite Eagles/Phillies/Flyers retired?" I asked.


Men! Heartless creatures.  Let's just say I was not ready to see things rationally at this point and there was a decidedly glacial cool down on my side of the bed.

"Is this going to be like Princess Diana/" asked Mr. Sensitive.  A little background, I am not normally a celebrity hanger-on, but I was ENAMORED with Princess Di.  I have a collection of books and old magazines that darn near needs it's own room.  The night she died, I stayed up late to watch network coverage. I fell asleep before news of her death broke, and when i awoke the next morning, the first thing I did was ask my husband for news.  "She croaked," was Mr. Sensitive's reply,  I did not speak to him for a week.  (I swear to you, I'm not normally that irrational, but a girl's heroes are her heroes, and not to be trifled with.)

Back to Sapphire.  She's done it all -- 2 Team Gold Medals at the Olympics, a team Silver at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, winner of the Pfizer Million in 2010 2nd in the FEI World Cup in 2009, (we won't discuss what happened in 2010), and top spot by .02 seconds over Eric Lamaze and the insanely quick Hickstead in the 2009 CN International at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament in 2009.

                        Baby Sapphire.
                      Think Her Foals Will Be As Cute?

Hopefully Sara's fans will one day have the opportunity to see her progeny take on the big fences. Attempts to breed her while she was recuperating from her injured check ligament were unsuccessful, but fingers crossed that things will go better this time around.

Sara doesn't owe anybody anything, least of all her adoring fans.  We've had 10 years to bask in her magnificence. Quite frankly, though, the show ring will be less exciting for lack of the Big Mare's presence. 
You'll be missed, Sara, and we thank you for all the wonderful memories you've given us.  It's been a privilege to watch you in action.


  1. I too was devastated at the death of Lady Di. I watched her wedding to Charles as a teenager, with my mom, grandparents and a special meal. It was a celebration of sorts, and as news broke of her accident I was heart broken. My mom had died from injuries in a car accident, and both of my grandparents were also gone. I stayed up all night, and was gutted at the news of her passing.
    So, although not a long time Sara Fan, I feel ya. I totally feel ya......

  2. Diana's death affected me deeply too. I think because it seemed like she was finally going to be happy in her very public life. I was rooting for her...

    Maclain and Sapphire had a great partnership. I'm happy that Sapphire is ending her career healthy and at the top of her game. Hickstead comes to mind...

    1. I hear ya, Calm. It would have been wonderful to have seen Hickstead retired. My understanding of aortic ruptures is that they can be caused by any number of things: Congenital aneurysms, weakness due to congenital disease or parasites, or a copper deficiency. That being said, there's no guarantee he could not have gone just frolicing in the pasture. It does beg the question -- do we know all we need to know about the equine heart and it's functioning, or is there more research that needs to be done?

  3. I felt the same way yesterday and, when hearing about Princess Di....

  4. Thanks, my friends, for your comments, both about Sapphire and about Princess Di. As I am now moving into a more mature stage of my life and giving up the need to always be right, I won't show your comments to my husband as proof that I was not irrational for feeling that way about her or this horse. LOL!

  5. Well written :)

    I too am hoping some babies come from her and we get to enjoy them for many years to come!