Jeanette Sassoon’s beloved companion of 27 years and best friend, Valiant, is currently fighting for his life in critical condition at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL. “We all arrive here for different reasons and purposes. Valiant has given not only me but so many others messages and answers to life. With your help he can continue to share and enrich life here on earth with us. Your prayers are needed now," requests Sassoon.
Many know the story of this blind dressage horse, have watched him compete or perform and are mesmerized by the journey of faith that epitomizes this deepest relationship of trust between a horse and rider.
Bred from her own Dutch Warmblood, Valant, Valiant already had a favored spot in Jeanette’s heart but when he went blind at age six after receiving medication for a nail puncture in his foot, Sassoon shifted her own focus to help them both adapt to this sudden, unknown territory. Their partnership truly touches an almost mystical realm.
“It became an experience of understanding horses in a whole different way,” she says. “Becoming quiet within myself and watching his body language was the key.” Building slowly on ground work for several years and with help from John Lyons, Jeanette boldly took the next step by riding Valiant.
“Walking him in a straight line, much less trotting him was virtually impossible. Balancing and giving him confidence were the two main issues and still are, only now on a different level,” she describes on Valiant’s website www.valianttrust.org that chronicles their inspiring teamwork.
Early on, she took Valiant to spend a summer in Wyoming, where he learned to navigate rugged trails up and down the Big Horn mountains and crossed rivers.
A horse with talent and flair bred for dressage, Jeanette brought Valiant from Training- First level when he went blind up through the movements to compete in their first dressage test at Fourth level. Since then over the years they have placed in the ribbons and have won several Fourth level classes in Wellington, FL. In 2013, they achieved their goal and competed at the Prix St. Georges level and placed 6th out of 15 horses in Wellington with a score of 65.87%.
The pair has also ridden numerous freestyle exhibitions at venues such as the USEF Festival of Champions, the Miami World Cup and the Global Dressage Festival Nations Cup. A documentary Valiant: Life Is A Horse has been their latest project.
His owner would like to ask the equestrian community to please send their prayers and love to this brave and determined horse to help him get through this grave condition.
"Trust" writes Jeanette. That one word means so many other words as well. Love, patience, courage, hope, communication, commitment and mutual respect are but a few of them. In my mind, Valiant is just another way how the universe works when you have faith.