Blind Dressage Horse Valiant in Critical Condition

Blind Dressage Horse Valiant in Critical Condition

Valiant and owner Jeanette Sassoon.

Photo: Courtesy Jeanette Sassoon

Editor's Note: According to Jeannette Sassoon, Valiant passed away Nov. 15 at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. She expressed her "heartfelt gratitude" for everyone's support.

Valiant, the Dutch Warmblood famed for rising through the dressage levels with complete blindness, is in critical condition with endocarditis, his owner Jeanette Sassoon told The Horse Nov. 14. The 27-year old gelding is under the care of Jordan Lewis, DVM, at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Fla.

Endocarditis is inflammation of the innermost lining of the heart (endocardium), usually caused by bacterial infection of one or more heart valves.

Sassoon has asked the equestrian community "to please send their prayers and love to this brave and determined horse to help him get through this grave condition. Valiant continues to leave his mark on the hearts and souls of all he comes in contact with, and with your prayers he will continue to share his wonderful life with ours."

As a 6-year-old dressage horse in training, Valiant stepped on a horseshoe nail and, while he received immediate veterinary care, he developed a severe infection that ultimately led to a painful condition called endophthalmitis (inflammation of the eye's internal structures), according to his owner’s website. Unfortunately, even aggressive treatment proved ineffective for treating his condition, and he lost vision in both eyes.

After his illness, Sassoon helped Valiant transition into his new life without sight. She began by solely working with him on the ground, and eventually began riding him and competing in dressage shows. In 2013, when Valiant was 26, the pair achieved their goal and competed at the Prix St Georges level, placing 6th out of 15 horses in Wellington with a score of 65.87%.

In addition to competing, Sassoon and Valiant have given numerous musical freestyle performances, including one at the 2013 Kentucky Reining Cup, held in conjunction with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

A documentary about Valiant is currently in the works.

Jeanette Sassoon and Valiant performing at the 2013 Kentucky Reining Cup

Photo Courtesy Jeanette Sassoon


About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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