Last weekend the Fellers family announced that the 21 year old traditionally-bred Irish Sport Horse stallion, Flexible, will be officially retired at the Del Mar National Horse Show on the 6th of May.
Bred by Kildare’s Edward and Catherine Doyle in 1996, Flexible’s story begins before he was even born. Edward Doyle came across Flexible’s dam, Flex (ISH) competing in Cavan in 1989 with Simon Trent, and went on to purchase her. Doyle and Flex won 15 national Grand Prix classes and qualified for the National Championship in 1995. Knowing that the mare was nearing the end of her career, the decision was made to put Flex into foal before the championships. The sire of choice was Cruising (ISH)(TIH), an up and coming sire and competitor at the time.
Flex had just been scanned in-foal to the Irish Sport Horse stallion when the National Championship came around and the pair went on to compete in it. Doyle found himself up against the hot combination of Trevor Coyle and the stallion Cruising in the championship round and went on to beat them by fractions of a second, while his mount carried the runner’s up progeny (Flexible).
The following spring, Cruising stormed onto the international scene representing Ireland in numerous Nations Cup teams and Grand Prix’s while Flex drew closer to her foaling date at the Irish National Stud. On April 15th 1996, Flex delivered her first foal, a small chestnut colt sporting a stark white blaze, a feature which has since become iconic as Flexible gained global recognition.
Flexible made history around the world with his successful showjumping career. Partnered with Richie Fellers (USA), they competed in eight FEI World Cup Jumping Finals together over 16 years. He jumped in his first FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg in 2008, finishing second to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly. Four years later he won the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final, earning themselves a place at the 2012 London Olympics in the process, where they finished 8th. The small horse (standing just under 16hh) with an “unorthodox” style won the hearts of many to be crowned USEF Horse of the Year. His popularity throughout the world meant that he is even embossed as a limited edition “Breyer” model horse.
Despite multiple career-threatening injuries, the Traditional Irish Sport Horse stallion has overcome them all and has been aptly dubbed “the comeback king”. His enthusiasm for work and desire to succeed are true traits of his Irish breeding.
As a sire Flexible has a number of promising offspring coming through the ranks such as Cushions (Daryl Walker), Cruicerath Flexianna (Eddie Moloney) and Hybernia (Greg Broderick/Darragh Ryan). He holds a 5* rating as an Approved stallion in the Irish Sport Horse Studbook.
He will continue his breeding career in his retirement and will live out the rest of his days with Richie Fellers at his farm in Oregon. Owned by Harrie and Mollie Chapman throughout his athletic career, an agreement was made that Fellers and his wife Shelly would take over his ownership when his retirement came.
Flexible will be officially retired before the $100,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar at the Del Mar National Horse Show on the 6th of May.
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