Pinocchio, Sophie Wells' Career Making Ride, Passed Away

Wed, 03/20/2024 - 17:47
Great Britain
Sophie Wells and Pinocchio at the 2014 CDI Roosendaal :: Photo © Astrid Appels

British Paralympian Sophie Wells said goodbye to her career making dressage horse, Pinocchio. He passed away on 20 March 2024. He was 27 years old. 

Pinocchio was a 1997 born, KWPN bred gelding by Landeur out of Istella (by Casimir). He was bred by A. van Erp in Teeffelen, The Netherlands

U.K. Bound

The chestnut Pinocchio sold as a young horse to the U.K. and was first competed by Andrew Gould.

In 2002 Gould premiered him at his first show in Great Britain after which he continued his sport career under Philippa Jane Fisher.

By 2006 Fisher and Pinocchio reached small tour level and in 2008 they competed in the Intermediaire II.

In the summer of 2008 Peter Storr rode him at the British Dressage Championships in the Intermediaire I freestyle (10th) and Intermediaire II (12th)

Sophie Wells

At the 2010 European YR Championships
Owned by  Dr Jackie and Dr Neil Walker, Pinocchio was matched to Sophie Wells in 2008. They gave the ride to her and a new adventure started. 

"When I went to try him in 2008, little did I know how he would change my life," Wells wrote. "At just under 18hh, he was a gentle giant. He made my dreams come true and I was lucky enough to literally do everything with him."

"He came to me having failed a vetting due to numerous heart issues, but who knew that’s where his journey really began, and not where it ended," she said. "He wasn’t easy, but the good horses aren’t, but what he was, was a complete angel, the softest, warm hearted boy."

Para Medal Winner

The pair premiered in March 2009 in Sollihul in the para classes and immediately got selected for the European Para Championships in Kristiansand, where they won team and individual gold. 

In 2010 they competed both in the able bodied and para sport. They represented Great Britain at the 2010 European Young Riders Championships in Kronberg (23rd in the individual test) as well as at the 2010 World Para Equestrian Games in Lexington, where they got double gold. 

At the 2011 European Young Riders Championships in Broholm, they were 14th in the individual test. 

At the 2012 Paralympics in London
At the 2012 Olympic Games they got team gold and individual silver. 

A break from international sport followed in 2013 and they returned in the Under 25 division at the CDI Rooesendaal in May 2014 and did their first senior Grand Prix in Hartpury in July. 

2015 was their last international year together at Under 25 level with CDI starts in Addington and Saumur followed by a senior Grand Prix test at the CDI Hartpury, their last. 


Pinocchio went on to be a schoolmaster for para riders Emma Sheardown aa and Isobelle Palmer. 

With Sheardown he competed one season in 2015 at the CPEDI's in Bishop Burton and Slapton, while Palmer campaigned him in 2016 and 2017 at Grade IV level at CPEDI's in Hartpury, Bishop Burton and Deauville.


Pinocchio was retired from sport after the CPEDI Hartpury in July 2017.

At the 2011 Young Riders' World Cup Final
After retiring from international competition (...) he carried on doing bits at home until a few years ago," said Wells, who announced his passing today.

"When a horse has been part of your life for 16 years, it’s going to leave a big hole. He literally brightened up the fields as a chestnut in a yard full of black/bays. And i will forever miss seeing his face when feeding him every morning and his little ears pricked. Thank you for everything you have taught me, I’m so beyond grateful to have had you in my life I hope you had the best last few days being pampered and spoilt like the king you are."

Photos © Astrid Appels - Jon Stroud - Barbara Schnell

Related Links
Eurodressage Photo Database: Pinocchio
Medals Galore with Three Sets of Individual Medal Ceremonies and the Overall Team Score
Day Two for the Team Tests and Great Britain on the Road to Gold at 2012 Olympics
Sophie Wells: Ability Counts
Sophie Wells Picked to Compete at 2011 Young Riders World Cup Finals
British Junior and Young Riders Selected for 2011 European Championships
Owners Pinocchio and Mistral Hojris Awarded at 2011 BDSC Ball
British Young Rider Sophie Wells Wins World Para-Equestrian Games Gold Medal
Wells' Victory Takes Britain to the Top of the Medal Table at 2010 World Equestrian Games