Headley Britannia (Brit)

It is with great sadness that we confirm that Headley Britannia was put to sleep on April 1st 2014.

Lucinda commented “Brit was the best horse I could have ever hoped to have ridden and I owe her so much. We were having so much fun in the beautiful sunshine XC schooling, I was so pleased to be with her for her last moments, and to have a chance to thank her for everything she has done for me and everyone around her. She remained calm, steady and was peaceful at the end.

I am so thankful for the partnership I had with Brit, she was one in a million. She was small but had such a huge heart. She was a true professional and made my career what it is, and without her I wouldn’t be where I am. She was my best friend. She touched so many people’s lives and always brought a smile to everyone’s face”.

Brit’s competitive spirit, manoeuvrability, sheer guts and a will to win propelled her to the top of the equestrian sport of eventing. She is one of only two horses to have won all three of the top four-star events (Badminton, Burghley, and Kentucky Rolex), and the best ever eventing mare in history. Brit retired from top level competition in 2012 but enjoyed a win at Express Eventing in 2013.

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Brit was sent to Lucinda to be sold in 2002, but no-one wanted a small chestnut mare whose ears could not be touched, and so she stayed to be competed. That year she won Blenheim.

After winning Badminton she went to stud for embryo transfer. In 2008, she won a team silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, and had two ET foals by Jaguar Mail; Britannia’s Mail, and Little Britannia both of whom will be continuing their mother’s legacy and are competing this weekend. In addition she has since had five other ET foals.

Lucinda wanted to sincerely thank everyone for the huge show of support and love for Brit. Lucinda commented “I can't tell you how moved we have been with all the messages coming in from across the world, it has provided us with so much comfort at this sad time. I always knew Brit was popular but can only now appreciate what an incredible impact she has had on so many people. I am very proud of my team of staff, pupils, owners, sponsors, family, friends, vets, physio's, farriers and all our connections, both past and present, who are sharing their memories of Brit”.

Lucinda added “I also wanted to highlight the very special relationship my groom Emily Young-Jamieson (Emz) has had with Brit over the 7 years she worked with her. Emz and Brit had a huge bond and she always had Brit looking immaculate and did everything to ensure Brit was happy, healthy and loved and the Number 1 on the Yard”.

Emz, commented “Brit was such an amazing little horse that touched the hearts of everyone who met her. My most memorable, special moment with her was when were out at Kentucky after her huge win, when everyone else had left and we were still waiting to be transported home we hacked out and walked and trotted the course which we don’t normally get to do. We then went into Kentucky Park where there was long lush grass to graze. Brit was so relaxed and happy that she lay down with me for several hours in the sunshine and continued to graze, it was just such a special moment that it stands out for me as it was just the two of us together in the peace of a beautiful park. There are so many wonderful moments I shared with her, of course all her amazing wins, I could go on forever”.

Lucinda has now confirmed the details of the incident on Tuesday 1st April, she said “Brit was jumping a small oxer (1 meter) on flat, grassy ground when she just ‘crumbled’ upon landing. Her rider, student fell with Brit, who did not get up immediately, Alex, Lucinda’s student who was riding Brit was fine. Lucinda had been schooling a younger horse ahead of Brit. "I could see there was something wrong right away. There was a slightly unusual lump on the upper part of Brit’s leg, but there was no bleeding.”

Hattie Lawrence, BVSc, MRCVS, of Valley Equine Hospital in Lambourn, England, confirmed onsite that the 21-year-old mare had fractured her left radius (forearm) bone. The horse was humanely euthanized.

Brit was still in full work but at a much lower level and was aiming to compete again at Express Eventing this year which she won in 2013. She was perfectly fit and still looked like a million dollars as many would confirm when Lucinda and Brit wowed the crowds at her demo lectures at Your Horse Live late last year, Brit just loved doing what she did. Just before her fall, she was galloping and jumping in beautiful countryside in the bright sunshine, and she was happy.

Lucinda added “Brit defied all the odds as an eventer, she was small, chestnut, a mare and wasn’t the greatest mover, everything you wouldn’t normally want in a horse but she was proof that these things don’t always matter. She opened up people’s minds to mares and now you can see a lot more mares out there competing, I do believe that our one in a million mare had a part in that. On top of this Brit was so gentle, she had a heart of gold and I could trust her with Ellie from a young age. She was so easy to manage and had no annoying habits but when she was in competition she definitely transformed into a lion”.

“Brit was my best friend but also a friend to many others. She touched so many people’s lives and always brought a smile to everyone’s face and of course she will be missed forever. I hope that the partnership and the success that myself and Brit shared has, and will be, an inspiration to many young eventers in the future. Anything’s possible if you believe”.

I hope that Brit’s legacy goes on with Britannia’s Mail (Marley) and Little Britannia (Milly) along with the five other ET youngsters – Ron, Simba, Nala, Ruby and Bella. I have told them that they need to put their best feet forward now!