The USEA is saddened to report the passing of Becky Holder's Thoroughbred gelding Courageous Comet (Comet Shine x Rosnelli). Holder said goodbye to "Comet" on Feb. 8 at her Windhaven Farm in Wadesboro, North Carolina. He was 28.
Holder and Comet began their career together in 2002 and spent a decade competing at the Advanced and four-star (now five-star) level together. Their career accomplishments include placing second at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2008, coming in third at the same event in 2010, and later winning the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series at the 2010 USEA American Eventing Championships (Fairburn, Georgia). They finished the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (England) in 15th place in 2006.
The pair also represented the U.S. at both the 2008 Olympic Games (Kong Kong) and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.
Comet officially stepped down from upper-level competition in 2012. He spent a bit of time helping Holder's husband, Tom Holder, get a taste for eventing at the Starter level.
"Comet epitomized the rags to riches story line, and his Thoroughbred enthusiasts cheered him on everywhere he went," shared Becky. "But it's the things not in the public eye that I want to share and give thanks for. He loved turnout. He nickered more loudly for it than any meal or treat. When in England, [his groom] Aubrey Dunkerton would take him on luxurious grazes and often would get stuck out in the field when he refused to return to the barn.
"He often walked briskly out to work, excited for the day's adventures and then drug his feet coming home, taking any chance to divert back out for a little longer. Whenever I was in the barn, he tracked me and watched me intensely. Every time I picked up the trot on him, I smiled."
While there were many beautiful memories that the pair shared, Becky also fondly remembers Comet's quirks as well. She shared that Comet was terrified of drag lines in the dirt and colored poles on the ground, but he never met a ditch that he couldn't tackle. He would often bite Dunkerton's pant legs while being braided, and he was a masterful escape artist, sneaking out on each new student at least once, and then happily parading around the farm until he decided the game was over and allowed himself to be caught. Comet was keenly aware of his fans, always soaking up the atmosphere created by the audience and their applause for him in every phase.
"He was spicy and sassy throughout his retirement," she said. "It was our utter privilege to give him the retirement he deserved."
The USEA sends our condolences to the Holder family and all of those who shared connections with Courageous Comet.
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