On December 13, 2008, Eurodressage published in its "What's Happening" section the surprising news that Holland's most famous FEI dressage pony, Power and Paint, has been retired from competition due to recurrent soundness issues.
This news caused a flurry of debate in the dressage world and online as neither the German owner of the pony, Constanze Pasch, nor the rider/leaser/owner of the pony, the Fokker family, were willing to comment on the 'real' reason of this disappearing of Power and Paint.
As always, a deeper truth lay behind this sudden retirement, namely a legal dispute between Pasch and Fokker about ownership and the pony's health issues. This led to both parties keeping their lips sealed to the press, until recently. Pasch released a press release through her lawyer which mentioned that "wrong information" has appeared "in various equestrian media about the situation of Power and Paint."
The German owner stated that "Power and Paint is currently held under legal guardianship. This was necessary because of a dispute between the Pasch and Fokker family. As long as the judge has not ruled on the matter, the pony will not be competed. It is expected that the judge will take some time to review the matter and decide upon it. The press will be notified as soon as there is a verdict."
The rising 16 year old Power and Paint was confiscated by a bailiff at Pasch's request at Jan Greve's Watermolen Equine Clinic in Haaksbergen, The Netherlands, where the pony stallion was again treated for and recovering from lameness issues. The reason for this confiscation is that the agreed purchase price for the pony has not yet been paid in full.
The Fokker family, which is legally represented by Stephan Wensing, has refused to pay the full amount of money as the pony has been continuously unsound when extensively trained and competed.
The Dutch online equestrian magazine Horses of the Dutch disclosed additional information on the topic. "When Fokker bought the pony in October 2007, a pre-purchase exam took place at the equine clinic in Kerken, Germany, after which the Fokkers were told that the pony was fit for top sport."
During the winter, Power and Paint was only lightly trained as he had to recover from a very busy 2007 show season and the then 11-year old Rachell Fokker still had to adapt to the powerful pony stallion. As soon as she picked up the training for competition, soundness issues appeared and it was very hard for the Fokker family to keep the pony sound and Rachell was only able to compete Power at a few shows.
In October 2008, Jan Greve treated Power and Paint one last time, but notified the Fokker family that Power and Paint would probably never be fit enough for top level competition.
Horses of the Dutch completed the story by stating that, "after careful research and due to the appearance of old files on the pony's health at the equine clinic in Kerken, it showed that an old acute tendon injury had become chronic. The prognosis is hopeless."
The Fokker family now legally aims to have the initial purchase contract dissolved based on hidden soundness issues of the pony. Horses of the Dutch states that "the Pasch family, represented by Gea Stibbe, put forward a very different reason for the dispute. The pony has not been paid for."
Pasch's press release leaves the option open that Power and Paint could return to the show scene as it does not mention any soundness issues. Fokker has confirmed that it is probably out of the question that Power will ever return to the show ring.