he equestrian community is rallying around Irish eventer Jonty Evans following his fall at the Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair on June 3. Jonty, who finished 9th at the 2016 Rio Olympics aboard Cooley Rorkes Drift, has been in a stable yet unconscious condition since his fall from his longtime partner, the famous crowdfunded “Art” - lovingly dubbed ‘the people’s horse’, in which he incurred a serious brain injury.
As he is known for his bright green and decidedly Irish cross-country colors, the #WearGreenForJonty campaign urges riders and supporters of Jonty and his family to add green into their getups throughout the month of July.
Jonty’s partnership with Art hasn’t been without its share of roadblocks, but that has only made their bond stronger. Following their phenomenal performance on the world stage in Rio, Jonty raised £500,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to keep the ride on the 12 year old Irish Sport Horse gelding. Yet, after the Olympic high wore off, the opinionated Art and Jonty had some miscommunication - as two superstars often do.
In an exclusive interview with Catherine Austen for NoëlleFloyd.com, Jonty said, “I ended up with a horse I thought was a demi-god – and then it came crashing down. Driving home from Pau CCI4* having retired at the seventh fence was hell. It was a huge confidence knock.”
The strong-willed art presented challenges for the pair, but Jonty - ever the dedicated athlete - never gave up.
“I think most people, seeing him trot so beautifully and apparently submissively, round the dressage arena, wouldn’t realize that Art is a very opinionated horse who thinks he can do it all his own way. I think that was the underlying issue last autumn – I think he was being bossy, if that doesn’t sound stupid,” he added.
Things began to smooth out and return to their former glory, proving that Jonty and Art were capable of amazing things. With a win in April in the Grantham Cup, Belton’s highly competitive CIC3*, the 2018 season was off to a great start and many of the roadblocks conquered for this ‘Cinderella story’ pair.
Our thoughts are with Jonty, his family, and his team, at this difficult time. Jonty, we hope to see you soaring around cross-country in that trademark Irish green soon.
Let’s #WearGreenForJonty as we keep Jonty Evans and his family in our thoughts, and remember to appreciate our ability to be part of this sport we all love.
Photos by Ben Clark.