Anyone who can compete at a level higher than myself is an idol to me. Anyone who can qualify for and compete at their first Rolex at the age of 50 years young is a hero to me. Martha McDowell became one of my heroes last year when I read her story. Hailing from Billings, Montana, which does not immediately pop to mind at the though of upper level eventing, she and her TB gelding, Gaelic Marriage moved up the ranks successfully after she found him in 2004 and finally competed at their first 4* event last year at Rolex. Unfortunately, they were eliminated on cross country, but that is not the point of this story. My point is, she had the determination and ambition to go for the top level and she made her dreams come true with her horse of a lifetime.
Gaelic Marriage was euthanized at the beginning of March after battling a post-surgical infection for a fractured patella sustained at Galway. My heart broke for Martha – truly it is a tragic loss to have to endure the death of any partner or pet, but the death of your horse of a lifetime is not something anyone deserves.
Today, the news broke that a fire has destroyed Martha’s barn, killing some 19 horses. Eventing Nation broke the news just minutes ago. It certainly seems that 2012 is not starting out the best for High Plains Farm, and after the endless tragedy that befell the Martins last year, it’s hard not to think of the long recovery road that Martha has ahead of her.
However, the eventing community is a strong one. There are few people more resilient than eventers, and this is a fact proven on a daily basis. I have full faith that Martha and her team will recover from the tragedies that have come their way and emerge on the other side stronger and braver than ever. In the meantime, be on the lookout for fundrasing opportunities to help the High Plains team get back on their feet.
Update: Montana Equestrian Events has begun fundraising efforts to help Martha and her staff and boarding family. Visit this link to donate!
We love you, Martha!