Top Canadian dressage rider Jacqueline Brooks announced on Saturday, May 13th that her longtime dressage partner, Olympic Games team horse and PanAm Games silver medal mount Gran Gesto had passed away at the age of 28.

Jacquie wrote on Facebook:

Life is made of great days and difficult days.
Today was a difficult day.
Today we had to say good bye to Gran Gesto. My beautiful Sam.
Sam was the horse that dreams are made of.
There was never a single day that he didn’t show up one hundred percent committed to the task at hand. Easy-going, generous, safe and extremely talented.
He took me places I should never have been able to go.
He showed his family and friends the world.

The dark bay Oldenburg gelding (Grannox out of Goldi) was bred by Alfons Harren in Germany and purchased by Anne and John Welch and Mary and Eric Brooks as a five-year-old for Jacquie to develop through the ranks. They began their international show career together in the small tour in 2002 and were selected to represent Canada on the team at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo, where they won the team silver medal.

Their Olympic debut came at the 2008 Games, placing 28th in the Grand Prix; they continued to compete successfully at the top of the sport for several more years. Gran Gesto was retired from international competition in January of 2012, having won a total of 11 grand prix and freestyles in Canada and the US along the way. “Sam,” as he was known to his friends, gave a farewell performance with Jacquie at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto in November of that year. He had been enjoying retirement at Brookhaven Farm in Cedar Valley, ON, since then.

Jacquie commented on the outpouring of love and support following the sad announcement:

“While the last 24 hours have been emotional, the strongest of all of the emotions has been gratitude.
Of course grateful to have had him, grateful he lived a long, happy and healthy life, but mostly grateful for the friendships he afforded me.

“Hearing from so many friends, seeing so many comments and the thousand-plus reactions has reminded me that the greatest gift our horses give us is the connections to each other. Thank you to each and every one of you that has taken the time to connect with me over our mutual love for a horse and our sport.”