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despite the high winds that ripped through the stadium. “Cross-country was foot perfect and Windfall was one of 15 out of 75 to make the time,” says Dr. Holekamp proudly. “But that night there was big trouble.” Windfall had twisted an ankle while running cross-country, and he very nearly didn’t pass the vet inspection the next morning. Fortunately, after two tries, the veterinary panel found him sound enough to compete and allowed him to continue to the last phase. During warm-up for show jumping, Windfall was slow to warm up and more than a little stiff. But after careful consideration, Team Windfall decided to give it a go. Team efforts sometimes require special risk-taking by individuals. “That was the moment when I learned about the

relationship between great military horses and great three-day horses,” Dr. Holekamp explains. “That night the scene in the stadium jumping at Athens had all the same elements as a battleground: far from home, frightening noises, thousands of roaring humans, many strange horses and bright lights. As Windfall walked up that hill for his turn in the lights, he changed. With nearly every step he climbed he became sounder, less nervous, more erect in posture, more alert. When he jumped his course he was as sound in appearance as any other competitor, which anyone watching the video can attest. Without his effort, the U.S. would not have a medal. With it, they did. Some things about a horse cannot be known except during almost unbearable adversity. In today’s horse world there are few moments like that, but when they come we learn so much about character in a horse.” Windfall jumped two brilliant rounds to clinch a bronze

medal for the United States team and twelfth place individually for himself in one of the most competitive Olympic Games in recent history, the highest placing of a stallion in modern times. It was at these games that German rider Ingrid Klimke

was able to see her Windfall again for the first time since he’d left Germany. “After he left Germany, I next saw him in Athens, four years later,” she recalls. “It was quite an emotional moment.” After the Olympics, the Holekamps originally planned

to retire Windfall to stud. But his young age of only twelve and success at the Games led the U.S. Team officials to request that Windfall be kept in work for possible duty at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and the 2008 Hong Kong Olympics. Unfortunately, extenuating circumstances kept the stallion from competing in both competitions.

The Unexpected

On March 15, 2008, Team Windfall’s world was turned upside down. Darren was involved in the worst riding

30 March/April 2010

accident of his career aboard another Trakehner prospect, which resulted in him being airlifted to a hospital near the competition grounds. Darren’s injuries were life threatening. He suffered a severe brain injury, contusion damage to both lungs, a partially collapsed lung and multiple rib fractures. He remained in a coma for 42 days after his accident, then

awoke fully and began a fast recovery through maximum efforts in rehabilitation. “Windfall is a very valuable breeding animal and

may well sire some of the horses that will be on the U.S. Team ten or fifteen years from now,” Dr. Holekamp explains. “Risking incapacitation or worse in competition made no sense after Darren’s fall.” Plans for competing Windfall were on hold. Three months after the fall, Darren set the ultimate goal of getting back in the saddle and competing at the level he was riding at before his accident. Finally, that dream came true for him when he climbed back aboard Windfall and placed second at the Stuart Horse Trials in the Open Intermediate division. His first win at the Advanced level after his accident came within a year. His mount for that victory was the great Windfall. “My relationship with Windfall was stronger than ever. If it wasn’t apparent before, it sure was after my injuries,” Darren says. “Dr. Holekamp was one of the few who had complete confidence in me and thanks to him Windfall returned to competition with me. To win again at Advanced with Windfall wasn’t so much about winning. It was getting back to where I was before.” “Darren wished to return to riding fairly quickly, which

was fully approved by his physicians, and he wanted a horse he totally trusted to carry him in his recuperation period. After all he had done for us and for Windfall, there was no question about whether he deserved that consideration from me, so that is what happened. Finally, in May of 2009, nearly a year after Darren recovered enough to get back in a saddle, Windfall retired—sound, healthy and with the same joyful spirit he had when we met him.”

Dual Careers

One of Windfall’s unique characteristics is that he’s been able to maintain his position at the top of American eventing while also carrying on a successful stud career. Both Darren and Dr. Holekamp agree that while competing a breeding stallion isn’t for everyone, Windfall excelled at the task. “Windfall has literally been collected in the morning and competed in a dressage test that afternoon,” says Darren. “We’ve made it very clear in his life when is breeding time and when is work time. We never confuse it, so he never confuses it. He’s so smart.” Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76
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