"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, April 3, 2009

It was a Perfect Day

(Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star)
Jessica & Bella

Last Thursday the sun finally shone and I went riding for an hour and a half. For the first time since I met Jazz I wasn't wearing gloves, a down vest, Barbour jacket, a balaclava and toe warmers in my boots. I have been waiting for this day since Christmas and I didn't take a single picture. So I guess I will have to try and describe it.

We rode down from the barn along the road and spread out in front of us was Georgian Bay, as blue as the Mediterranean Sea. Off to the east we could see the ski hills still snow covered and the fanatics still skiing. The fields we rode past were brown with just the faintest tinge of the green winter wheat which stubbornly grows under the snow. Pussy willows were starting to bud on branches and the birds were singing up a symphony from all directions. We crossed the highway without too much trouble, cars slowed down to watch us, one father stopped and rolled down the back window so his young daughter could wave at us. We headed for the comfortable footing of the Rail Trail and a chance to stretch Jazz and Sultan's legs. It was bliss.

But this morning I woke to 6 inches of snow and a story that has taken much of the joy out of that ride.

Local police are investigating a hit-and-run involving one of Canada's top equestrians after she and her talented young horse – which had to be humanely put down by the side of the road – were struck on a rural side road earlier this week.

"Bella suffered so much," recounted Jessica Ruppel, who was riding the promising 3-year-old bay Hanoverian filly when a pickup truck smashed into them. "She was trying to get up and thrashing and whinnying. It was just horrible."

Veterinarian Jim Mitchell gave the filly medication for shock and fought for two hours to save her as she lay in the mud, covered with blankets. But when it was found she not only had internal injuries, but a shattered pelvis, the decision was made to humanely destroy Bella right there to end her suffering.

"I'm pretty shattered by this whole thing," Ruppel said in an interview yesterday.

Ruppel, who suffered a black eye and other bruising, said they were hit by a light-coloured pickup truck just 125 metres from the barn driveway Tuesday about 5:50 p.m. while out on a fun ride with friend Monica Wolfe on her appaloosa Kirby.

Ruppel, 25, is a fixture on the North American Three-Day Event scene and is currently on the list for Canada's 2009 team in the Olympic discipline, which combines show jumping, cross country jumping and dressage in a three-day format.

Just last year, Ruppel spent months recovering from a broken back suffered in a riding accident.
Ruppel said the truck was heading down the narrow gravel road at a high speed when she began waving her arms at the driver in an attempt to get him to slow down. The riders moved their horses to the far side of the road, but the driver made no attempt to slow, she said.

"He was going quite fast. I made eye contact, but he wasn't on his side of the road," Ruppel said. "He didn't move over, he just held his speed and his line and he hit us."

Ruppel said the truck, which had damage to its front driver's side, stopped and the driver and passenger got out.

"He yelled at me something like `what were you doing on the road?' and then got back in his vehicle and drove away," she added.

We were riding on that same stretch of road. How can people be so cruel and inhumane? I am going to spread the word throughout our little community in the hopes that the driver of the truck is caught and punished severely.


  1. Oh my. How horrible! I'm sorry your beautiful day was spoiled by such an awful story! Please be careful out there!!

  2. Sad, tragic and frightening.
    I hope the driver is found.

  3. God that's awful. ( not really related but just made me wonder: have you read or seen the Horse Whisperer? I loved both the book and movie)

  4. I loved the book, cried through both it and the movie. But then I also cried during International Velvet with Tatum o'Neil of all people. I didn't cry over her but over the horse.


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