‘They’re athletes too’: Lexington equestrian withdraws from Olympics after horse suffers injury

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Liz Halliday-Sharp and her horse, Deniro Z, were set to compete on the US Eventing Team. A recent injury forced them to withdraw, but they’re planning on making a full recovery.(WDKY)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Liz Halliday-Sharp and her horse, Deniro Z, were set to compete on the US Eventing Team. A recent injury forced them to withdraw, but they’re planning on making a full recovery.

For the past year, Halliday-Sharp has been settling into her life here. The tall, blonde California native left the states for England 20 years ago.

“I said to my husband, let’s just see Lexington,” Halliday-Sharp said.

The calling to compete for her country brought her back, because it’s been a lifelong dream.

“I remember at a very young age thinking, ‘this has got to be something big.’ I’m not just here to do this for fun,” Halliday-Sharp said.

But it’s not just a one-woman show. Her partner, Deniro Z, wanted in on the attention.

“He’s got a strong personality.. He’s a real competitor. He’s always been a tryer. No matter how excited he is at a show, he goes to work when he’s in the ring. He always is a professional,” she said.

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Their strength is in their subtlety of how they move together.

“It’s really the only sport where you have another athlete with a brain that you’re working with that isn’t human,” Halliday-Sharp said.

The pair would be on their way to Tokyo right now, but things didn’t go to plan. Instead, they’re back here at Blue Fox Farm.

“We went to our mandatory outing at Great Meadows, he was really good,” Halliday-Sharp said. “After that, we were checking him over and there was just a few concerns that maybe he wasn’t 100% perfect.”

After a lot of discussion with their team and the veterinarian, they sent Deniro in for an MRI.

“He unfortunately had some bone bruising. We all decided it was not right for him to keep being under that amount of training in that run up to Tokyo,” Halliday-Sharp said.

Days away from the games, a long trip overseas was cut short. Like many other athletes, Deniro Z has found himself on the bench.

“They’re athletes too and we can’t keep pushing them. Above all else, Deniro’s my friend and my partner,” Halliday-Sharp said.

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It’s the side of the sport not always seen.

“It’s horrible when you’re in that place and you think, this horse is maybe not going to go,” Halliday-Sharp said.

She’s focusing on what she can control— the reign in her hands.

“What this whole thing is going to do is remind me that I can fight my way through it,” Halliday-Sharp said. “I think it’s going to make me stronger.

And everybody loves a good comeback story.

“Now my focus is on the World Equestrian Games and I’m putting all my heart and soul toward that,” Halliday Sharp said.

Halliday-Sharp says she expects Deniro Z to make a full recovery soon.

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