The Retirement of a Legacy: Flexible

An Internationally Successful Show Jumper’s Inspiring Journey through Recoveries and Success.

A good horse gets the job done; a great horse breaks down barriers.

Flexible, Rich Fellers’ Irish sport horse, retired at the beginning of May at the Del Mar National. Although physically small when compared to his competition, Flexible had a very big presence in the sport of show jumping.

Throughout his career spanning over two decades, Flexible faced medical challenges that would leave most horses without hope for competing again. Among the worst was a severely damaged left scapula and blocked vein in his right front leg, both rare injuries. Despite Flexible’s countless injuries, he never quit wanting to compete.

“He will do anything possible to succeed,” Fellers said.

No matter where they were in the world, anytime the duo entered the ring, crowds would roar with excitement.  These cheers came with several triumphs as Flexible and Rich earned titles that most could only dream of.

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These include:

  • Winners of the 2012 World Cup Finals for Show Jumping – the first American pair in 25 years to take the title.
  • Highest placing American pair in the team and individual events in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
  • 2nd in 2008 World Cup Finals.
  • Members of winning Nations Cup teams in 2008 and 2010.
  • Flexible earned the United States Equestrian Foundation (USEF) International Horse of the Year Award.

Rich attributed Flexible’s endurance at the age of 21 to his feeding program. When he was competing, Flexible’s daily diet consisted of Ultium, Equine Sr. Active, and Super Sport, along with forage.

“His feeding program has kept him very durable and steady. Super Sport extended his career three and a half years ago,” said Fellers

At one point, Flexible wasn’t able to go more than once a week at shows, but a month after feeding Super Sport, Rich took him out.

“He was just unbelievable.”

The amino acid supplement helped him through the qualifier rounds and the pair went on to win the Grand Prix.

Through overcoming his size and numerous injuries throughout his career, Flexible competed with a heart so big that nothing could stop him. Prior to his retirement, Rich noticed Flexible was showing signs of soundness issues.

“If he doesn’t come out of this injury, then he will retire.” With endless love for his incredible horse, Rich thought it best to retire him before further injury occurred, compromising Flexible’s well-deserved, happy retirement.

Harrie and Molly Chapman have owned Flexible the length of his competitive career, but he now is permanently retired at the Rich Feller’s Stables. His legacy will live on not only through his accomplishments but through his progeny that are having success in their own right.

One could imagine how hard it would be to compete without a counterpart like Flexible; Rich is confident in his career continuation and future in show jumping with three impressive young mares in his stables in Oregon City, OR. We are proud to have been a part of Flexible’s journey and look forward to following the future of Rich and his great stable.

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Photography credit: Christy Burleson Photography