We began our search for the perfect dressage horse in the spring of 2008. My daughter, then 16, knew just what she was wanted and was settling for no less. She was determined to find a horse that she could train up through the ranks and take all the way to Grand Prix. She needed horse with lots of spunk, 3 great gaits, good uphill buid and a sweet disposition. Our quest to find the perfect horse lasted for 8 months and spanned 7 states; North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Florida. Our search ended when we were visiting my parents in Delray Beach in March, 2009. A sport horse auction was being held at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Wellington.
Highlife Farms was auctioning some of the offspring of Diamond Stud, a beautiful, black Oldenburg stallion from the Donnerhall line. Diamond Stud was an internationally renowned Grand Prix level horse being trained and ridden by Olympian, Lisa Wilcox. We had never been to a horse auction before and could not wait to see such a large selection of top quality dressage horse for sale.
Highlife’s Dakarai was our perfect horse. He was a beautiful dark bay gelding with a star snip and 2 white socks. He had a nice uphill build, good gaits and a great disposition to boot. He had just been started under saddle and was a beautiful mover. The partner my daughter had been searching to find.
Dakarai was the horse of my daughter’s dreams. He placed or won nearly every competition he ever entered. At 5 years old he was scoring upper 60’s and low 70’s in Training level and First level tests. He was quickly earning a reputation at local schooling shows and rated shows in Tryon and North Georgia as the horse to beat. At the pinnacle of Dakarai’s show career, he won High Point and was Training level champion at the GDCTA Labor Day Classic. He qualified twice for Region 3 Championships and won Reserve Champion for Oldenburg breed in 2011. At the Region 3 Championships he came in 5th in a class of 36. My daughter was living her dream with her beloved companion Dakarai by her side.
In 2012 and 2013, Dakarai struggled with some medical issues. He had an inflammation of his SI joint and was also diagnosed with an upward fixation of the patella. Treatment kept him out of competition for most of the season. We began jumping Dakarai in the summer, 2013 to build his hind end strength and he loved it. He was jumping intermediate level jumps and took every jump at our local eventing barn with ease. We considered a change in discipline but, dressage was in his blood. We decided to try him at dressage work one last time. We started working second level movements and Dakarai was handling the work beautifully. He showed a natural ability for haunches in and shoulder in.
We sent Dakarai to Brookwood Farm for training in January, 2014. We never could have imagined that two weeks later our lives would be shattered by an early morning call from the barn. Dakarai had perished in a barn fire, along with 17 other horses. Our souls were crushed, along with the barn owners and every other horse owner at Brookwood Farms. God works in mysterious ways but, this is a senseless tragedy we will never fully understand.
My heart breaks with sadness for my daughter and the horse she loved so dearly – Highlife’s Dakarai. His life was cut tragically short. A promising career is now gone and replaced with heartache from the loss of a beloved partner. We pray Dakarai is at peace in the big green pasture in the sky with all the other horses from Brookwood; grazing on green grass and frolicking in the fields. We will never forget Dakarai, his sweet disposition and his big heart; a heart which he gave to my daughter on every ride to help her fulfill her dreams. He will be with us at every show, on every ride. He will run in our hearts...forever!