When Bent Branderup, a Danish dressage trainer, met Hugin, a two-year-old Knabstrupper stallion, in 1988 it was love at first sight. Branderup knew this stunning stallion was something special and the pair trained together in classic dressage.
Hugin soon proved he was indeed a truly special horse, as he was named Premium Champion Stallion of the Year in Denmark in 1991.
Then catastrophe hit, as Hugin was in a terrible breeding accident. The stallion was seriously injured, fracturing both rear femurs and suffering from a front split bone.
The veterinarians suggested euthanizing Hugin, but Branderup was not going to give up on his beloved horse. Despite all odds, Hugin was able to make an incredible comeback.
Branderup spent years working on healing Hugin’s legs. He slowly reintroduced him to dressage, to help strengthen and stretch Hugin’s legs to rebuild muscle to support the injured bones.
Incredibly enough, the mighty stallion was able to make a full recovery. However, Hugin was hit with yet another difficult challenge.
In 1996, Hugin became blind in both eyes. Once again, Branderup was not going to give up on his extraordinary stallion.
Branderup worked countless hours to rebuild Hugin’s confidence and trust by using dressage. He was dedicated to giving Hugin the best life possible.
Thanks to Branderup’s help, Hugin was able to continue on in his dressage endeavours.
“With him, I learned not to use the horse for the dressage, but the dressage for the horse,” said Branderup.
Despite all the hardships Hugin was given in life, he was able to overcome them thanks to his dedicated trainer. The beautiful spotted horse was able to practice dressage well into his twenties, which is an amazing accomplishment for any horse, let alone one that has faced injury and blindness.
At 26, Hugin was even able to help Branderup’s eight-year-old daughter Birgitta learn about the art of dressage through feeling and seat.
See Bent Branderup and Hugin perform in 2011 below:
In 2013, Hugin wasn’t able to stand on three legs for a long period of time. Branderup, along with Hugin’s farrier, got creative to come up with a solution to trim his hooves so he could stand comfortably.
In 2015, Hugin passed away at the age of 29. He led an incredible life and never let his hardships hold him back from being a talented dressage horse. Branderup was committed to his faithful mount, always believing in him and doing what was best for the stallion.
A statue commemorating Hugin was revealed later in 2015 at Summer Academy to commemorate the amazing stallion.
Be sure to follow the Academic Art of Riding by Bent Branderup on Facebook to see Branderup’s work with his stunning horses in classic dressage.
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