NEVILLE BARDOS: THE HERO WHO ROSE FROM THE ASHES

A beautiful story is always worth to be shared. But the story of the ex former racing horse Neville Bardos and his owner Boyd Martin is not just worth to be shared, but shouted, spreaded and appreciated. A triumphant story that goes beyond the fate, that does not end where difficulties appear and overcomes the hurdles fearlessly.

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We are in Australia. Neville Bardos, class 1999, one of the many racing horses. His racing career was not full of remarkable achievements and as many, which started their careers at very early age, after some years it seemed like he had no more to give. His road to an inglorius end was signed.

Boyd Martin, trainer, eventer, istructor,  decided to follow a friend that was potencially interested in buying the horse. Unfortunately, he didn’t satisfy him expectations and the horse remained unsold, bring him closer to his end again. But something happened in that moment: maybe a fleeting glance, an indecipherable feeling, something of that chetsnut stallion captured Boyd’s attention. Maybe his scrappy ,strong, almost insolent personality, his energy, his life approach that stole Martin’s heart. He bought the horse for 850 dollars, same price that a butcher would be willing to pay to have his meat butchered. Neville had found a new owner, a new home and new opportunities.

If it is true that attitude is everything, the horse Martin was stuck with made him think over the feasibility of the challenge. Definitely he was not surprised about the Neville’s strong, arrogant and bad tempered personality. Indeed the horse’s name referred to “Chopper” which was the name of a well-known australian gangster, so from the beginning the horse did not have an easy personality to deal with. Nervous, unmanegeable, restless, Neville relieved his anxienty by constantly crib-biting. All seems predict a puck in the water.

In 2002 he taked part to his first competition with Silva, Boyd’s wife, ended at the second fence with the fall of the horsewoman: it took at least 15 minutes to get Neville, which took adavntage of his freedom and run alone towards the end of the trail.

In 2007 Boyd, Silva and their horses, Neville included, moved to the USA. After five years Boyd had bought Neville, results started to jump out: Boyd started to understand better Neville’s personality and also gain his trust and obtain his respect. The big step was close: Neville and Boyd sign up in some important competitions and after years of hard work, in 2008 they make their debut in an international framework and placed 9th on the CCI**** Rolex in Kentucky and the following year they gained the 10th position in the World Equestrain Games, the best represents of the american equestrian team. The bond was born.

Life sometimes turns around and shows us its cruel and unforseeable side: in 2011 an enormous fire invaded Boy’d stable who ran through the flames to rescue the trapped horses. On that night six horses died and four of them ran away. The 11th horse was rescued by Boyd’s corageous act who found the terrified horse on a layoft in the corner after 45 minutes he was in the burning stable. The only horse that survived in the stable was him: Neville Bardos. Boyd’s managed to rescue him by pulling from the crib-biting collar. Once again what was considered a big flaw of Neville’s personality, saved him.

Neville was taken to one of the most famous clinics that would deal with this type of injuries and he was diagnosed with burnt lungs, throat and also a great part of his body. Vets were skeptical, they had never treated horses with such injuries, no one had survived. Wounds in the soul and body to escape that tragedy and run towards what might have been a miracle. For a while Boyd had to carry this burden on his shoulders, dust himself off and start to fight.

Neville’s respiratory system was severely harmed and that would affect his career. The respiratory system’s functioning was fundamental for an eventer especially under pressure. What vets believed was that his recovery would have been slow and unlikely to happen. Neville’s career could have ended after that dreadful accident.

Nelville did not have an easy attitude, as already stated. His strenght, passion for life, even his arrogance that made him stand out and brought him close to Boyd could not be crushed. The sorrel stallion was staggeringly responding to the treatments. He did not want to graze in the grass all day long. Full of anxiety during his free time, he desired to work and take back what he was losing. He risked, faced and mocked death twice.

Boyd observed his partner day by day. His biggest dream was crossing Burghley fields, a competition that was only three months away. Day by day, whit tht light of a believer that shined in Nelville’s eyes, Boyd started to believe that they could take the challenge. And so, as days passed by, not only Nelville respond to medical treatment, but also to the amount of work: he wanted to do more and more. He was saying to his partner: believe, don’t give up, I’m ready. And Boyd started to really believe.

Tragedies never come alone, especially when everything started to look more calm and serene. Boyd had to face another life’s hardship: his father passed away in a bike accident in the far Australia. Dragging oneself down? Being defenceless? Backing down? This not what true heroes do, this is not what real champions allow, the ones that welcome us on their back and in their life. Neville gave Boyd the right charge: his personality helped Boyd to get out of his depression, cheered and picked  him up, and once again he proved that true heroes emerge from the ashes, and they can start all over from it.

In one of the events for the preparation of Burghley, Millbrocks Horse Trials, Neville showed the world his spectacular skills, getting fourth position in the Adavanced Division. There was no doubt: he was announcing the audience his presence on the well-knwon Burghley Competition. In only 8 weeks, Neville was ready for one of the most difficult four star in the international framework.

The world’s attention shifted from the world famous event to the story of a small stubborn horse who, facing obstacles bigger than him, took is space in the history of Events. By scoring 48.7 in dressage, making the cross country course look simple and taking down only one obstacle, Neville and Boyd gained 7th position. The horse was so energetic that he looked like he was willing to run in the competion all over again. Boyd’s wife Silva went closer to the groom Lindsey Taylor and excitedly said to her: “He should not have been here, Lindsey.”  After the pair made the top 10 in this contest, they had left behind a horrible summer and redeemed a family devasted by tragedies by working up courage and showing “strong attitude” like Nelville would say.

The story of Neville and Boyd does not end here. After numerous successes, the recognition of  USEF “International Horse of the Year” in 2011, the participation to the London Olympic Games in 2012, Neville keeps working in his stable, without demading to constantly win events and climb high rankings. Boyd thinks that Neville does not need to prove anything to anyone, or at least not anymore. What better recognition could someone receive if not some respect for his attitudes and heart?  Boyd said, referring to the majestic (we can say that) Neville: “He has  never been the horse who made me think that he could accomplish whatever he accomplished, but he has such a big heart that stands above any talent.”

Read the italian version here 

 

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