Some horses own your heart in a very special way, and for TARA MADGWICK that someone was Lunar Rise.
The first time I saw him, he was the centre of attention. It was at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in 2011. Arrowfield Stud were parading their yearlings on the lawn at the front of the historic Big Stable and a handsome bay colt with a prominent blaze was much admired.
He later sold for $380,000 to the bid of bloodstock agent Duncan Ramage and was the most expensive yearling by his sire sold at that sale. Named Lunar Rise, he was sent to the ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings to be trained and raced in the famous colours of Dato Tan Chin Nam, previously carried by numerous champions including So You Think. In my role as Breednet editor, I kept tabs on Lunar Rise as his racing career progressed and was not surprised when he won the prestigious Group III VRC Carbine Club Stakes.
As with all good racehorses, there comes a time when they can’t quite compete at the level they once did, and in the case of Lunar Rise, retirement in 2017 was the option chosen for a gelding who left racing 100 per cent sound.
He did not enjoy life in the paddocks of Think Big Stud and found the job of nannying boisterous yearlings a tiresome experience best left to others, so the question of what to do with him was one Duncan Ramage was left to ponder.
My teenage twins and I live on a small horse property on the South Coast of NSW where I grew up, and Daybreak Farm has become our little piece of horse heaven. Duncan rang me one day: “I’ve got to find a home for a special horse. He needs some sort of rewarding and fruitful career post racing and I thought you might be interested. He’s a nice person.” I was intrigued when he said the horse was a nice person and hooked completely when he told me it was Lunar Rise.
We went to Think Big Stud to try him out and long story short, Lunar Rise was soon on the float and headed to Daybreak Farm, joining us in March 2018. Somewhere on that trip home he acquired the name Lenny.
Show jumping is the discipline my children and I pursue, so Lenny was looking down the barrel of a new career as a show jumper. His willingness to oblige and do his best took him a long way and he competed at numerous shows all over the state for two years, earning a swag of ribbons. He loved nothing better than getting on the truck and heading to places unknown. When the tail gate dropped on arrival, Lenny was always the first horse off with his big happy face and eyes bright in anticipation of a new adventure.
In early 2020, my children and I saw an ad for the NSW Mounted Police. They were recruiting new horses and we all concluded Lenny might be just what they were looking for. He fit all the criteria and following a three-month trial in the heart of the city, he was accepted into the Mounties and so began the next chapter of his life as Troop Horse Martin.
In the pink – Lenny and NSW Mounted Police officer Emma Dickens (Image courtesy Tara Madgwick).
They retained his stable name of Lenny and he set about mastering a whole new skill set that was to take him on the ride of a lifetime, learning the art of meet and greet on street patrol, and the control and accuracy under pressure required for the spectacular Police Musical Ride at Sydney Royal. Lenny formed a close partnership with Senior Constable Emma Dickens, who was clearly smitten and happy to share their adventures with us as his career unfolded.
An early morning phone call from the NSW Mounted Police in June brought sad news out of the blue to Daybreak Farm. Just shy of his 13th birthday, Lenny suffered a bout of colic, which was not unusual in itself, but this one failed to resolve and led to surgery which was successful, but a post-operative complication resulted in his being put to sleep.
Emma reflected on the tragic loss of her beloved partner: “He was genuinely one in a million and the sweetest most special horse I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’m so grateful for the time I had with him even though I feel very robbed of the years of love I didn’t get to give him. However, the perk of being a beautiful horse is that he was never short of love in his lifetime, he was very loved in every career and home he’s had. I think I will spend most of my career finding another horse like him, he’s left massive hooves to fill and I can only thank Tara and her family for bringing him to the Mounties.”
Feature Image: The multi-talented Lenny fitted right into his new career as a show jumper (Image by Oz Shotz Photography).