Its with great sadness that we announce that Donna Parrina has passed away …


We have been wanting to start writing blogs for a while now, and what better time to start. I want to share with you my journey with Donna Parrina from day 1, and explain the reasons why she was such a special mare. Back in 2006 I was making the move off ponies and onto horses to start my season as a junior rider. My trainer at the time, Peter Storr, had found a horse he wanted me to try (Bimba). At first I didn’t feel a connection with her so after much persuasion from my dad we went to try her for a 2nd time and I fell in love with her!! (thanks dad!!) A few weeks later Bimba had passed her vetting and had arrived at my yard.

The first week of owning her was a rollercoaster, we came to the conclusion very quickly that this horse was loopy. She was box walking, rearing in her stable and starving herself. But all was forgiven as soon as she was under saddle, her paces were exceptional and we soon developed a close bond. We kicked off our first competition season together in 2007 and took the place by storm. Winning nearly every premiere league we entered and also winning our first international together at Addington CDI.

We then went on to compete in Holland and France the same year and we had made it onto the junior European team. After receiving the news I had made it onto the team I was very excited! But tried to not get too ahead of myself as the previous year I had got onto the team with my pony Peppino but he sadly went lame the week before we were due to leave.

We set off for the European championships in Germany and had sailed through the vet inspection. This was my first European championship so I had no idea what to expect, Bimba had everyone running around after her and the team GBR groom had to live outside her stable. She box walked all day and all night, she soon earned her princess title! But in true Bimba fashion she went on to score 68% in the individual test to be placed 7th out of 66 competitors and we were the highest placed British combination.

The following day she kept up her high scores to gain 69% in the free style finals to keep hold of our 7th place. When I came out the arena and saw the provisional score board I burst into tears as I couldn’t believe what we had achieved. Seeing my family standing there cheering me on and also in tears was the best feeling in the world! I knew we had done them proud! We even had someone want to buy Bimba off me…. Of course I said NO!

Our career kicked off from there, I soon earned a place on the world class development programme and went on to continue our success in 2008. We had been selected for the 2008 junior European championships in Portugal. We repeated our scores from 2007 and went on to take individual 9th place and the highest placed British rider for the 2nd year running. In 2009 we were all set and ready to make the step up into young riders, but unfortunately bimba had tweaked a tendon and I made the decision to give her a year off to give her time to heal properly. I lost my place on the world class programme due to the fact we were not out competing.

In 2010 Bimba came back into work very slowly, we had no intention of trying to make the young rider European team as I didn’t want to rush her. It was a very difficult year for us as we were having to step up a level and also bring Bimba back into competing slowly; it was like playing catch up with everyone!! We steadily progressed throughout the year and finished the year on the young rider European team short list. In October 2010 we received an invite from close family friends in Denmark to compete at the Odense CDIW small tour competition. This was very exciting!! Bimba was back in top form and I was ready and raring to go! We travelled for 25hrs across GBR, France and Germany to arrive in Denmark the week before the competition where we stayed with Nadia Vinther who now owns Peppino. We arrived at the competition and were against some big names! Andreas Helgstrand and Emma Hindle to name a few! Bimba warmed up beautifully and Andreas even complimented Bimba on her paces. The competition arena was huge! Exactly like HOYS and in true Bimba style we came down the centre line, halted and saluted but then she just stood there staring at herself on the big screens! The rest of the test was made up of Bimba stopping and staring at the screens! I was mortified and so embarrassed!! We finished last on 56%! Not our finest moment!! Travelling 2500 miles to come last!! We set off on the journey home and I had time to reflect on the competition, I had decided something needed to change and I wanted to come out all guns blazing in 2011 for my final year as a young rider. So we decided to base ourselves with Anna Ross Davies for 2 months on the run up to the 2011 competition season. Best decision we ever made!! We won Addington CDI again and we were scoring personal bests at PSG level. ( (

We travelled all the way to Belgium to compete at the CDIYR but unfortunately Bimba went lame just before the vet inspection. Little did we know this was her old injury cropping back up again. We travelled back home and gave her a few weeks off. We were then selected to compete at Hagen CDI in Germany where we passed the vet inspection and were placed individual 10th. Upon our return from Hagen we soon realised that Bimba was struggling with her previous injury and after our vets advice we were left with no choice but to retire her from work. This was devastating as we had planned to make our way to grand prix in 2012. Luckily as Bimba was a mare we had the option to breed from her, with impeccable breeding lines this seemed like the best option. We tried to get her in foal all of 2012 with no luck! So in 2013 we changed stallion to “For Romance” and she took first time!! We now have her lovely baby “indigo” at home. Bimba was a fantastic mother and seemed to thrive when she had a foal at foot. She looked so happy!!

In 2014 we put her in foal again to Don Dynamo, but little did we know this wasn’t going to be plain sailing. 6 weeks away from her due date she started to produce a lot of milk and was dripping milk everywhere. After vet checks, blood tests and scans, nothing showed up as being wrong so we kept a close eye on her. On the 27th April Bimba tried to give birth 5 weeks too early, sadly the foal had died and she was aborting. The foal wasn’t in the right position to be born naturally so Bimba was rushed in for an emergency C section. The operation was a success but we knew Bimba had a long way to go before she was out of the woods. We visited her every day at the vets and they were pleased with her progress. Then, on day 3, the phone call no horse owner wants to get. We were informed Bimba had gone down and they couldn’t get her up and to expect the worst. It was an agonising 30 minute wait for an update on how she was. Eventually my phone rang, I saw it was my vets and I just stared at my phone, I didn’t want to answer as I knew it wouldn’t be good news. I eventually answered and I remember my vets words so well, “ Keri I’m so sorry we have lost her”. My heart sank and my whole world fell apart in the space of a few seconds! Bimba had got down to roll and had burst her stitches open, they tried all they could to save her but she was in too much pain so they had to put her to sleep.

We can’t thank our vets at spring paddocks equine clinic enough for the care and attention they gave to Bimba over the years, especially towards the end. We are so grateful that they didn’t let her suffer and stayed with her right until the very end. I think only animal owners will ever truly understand the pain we are all feeling. Bimba meant the world to so many people, especially me. She was my best friend and someone who I shared so many experiences with. I am the person I am today because of her. She taught me so many valuable life lessons and I owe everything I have to her. Words will never be enough or even be able to describe the devastation and hurt I am feeling. She has left a massive hole that will never truly heal. Many people have said they are thinking of me, but it isn’t me who I want people to be thinking of, its Bimba. She had to go through so much and I have recently learned that torturing myself with the guilt of putting her in foal won’t make anything change. We were just desperately unlucky!

It wasn’t just Bimbas competition record that made her so special to me, we had a unique bond, one that only horse owners will understand. Whenever she was stressed she would calm down instantly the moment I was there. I take comfort in the fact Bimba knew how much I loved her and how much everyone here at ekko loved her too. She was my horse of a lifetime and ekko wouldn’t be ekko without her!! We have Bimbas beautiful baby from last year (indigo) who will be treated like royalty!! Bimba will live on through her and we are so grateful to have had the pleasure of owning such a fabulous horse!! She will continue to be loved by so many people but for now she is with her baby, Charlie, taking care of him and being the mum she was destined to be. We are both so lucky to have so many people who supported us. I have had messages from around the world saying they used to follow Bimbas progress and she was a stunning horse. To know she touched so many peoples life’s means so much to me. She is one in a million. I have so many people to thank for making mine and Bimbas journey possible, everyone from my farrier, family & friends, to my vets and sponsors. But the biggest thank you of them all goes to Bimba, thank you for giving me the best 9 years of my life! X x Keri


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