Remembering More Inspiration

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Holly Jacks-Smither’s longtime 5* partner, More Inspiration, this week at the age of 19. More Inspiration, or “Morris” as many knew him, was the horse of a lifetime for Holly, who began her FEI career with the Thoroughbred gelding and would eventually reach the top of the mountain with a 5* debut in 2017.

“My $2000 sales investment who I couldn’t sell, stuck around to change my life. If it wasn’t for you, Morris, I would have been on a totally different career path,” Holly wrote in tribute to More Inspiration on social media. “You taught me that hard work truly pays off; that thinking outside the box is a must to be successful with the tricky ones; that a big heart matters more than confirmation; and that hard work and perseverance get results.

Holly Jacks and More Inspiration. Photo by Kingfisher Media Services.

“From a gallop girl at Woodbine Race track where we met, to my first Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany, my first 5 star [sic] at Kentucky, and my first European 5 star in Pau, France… we did it all together. I’ll never have another horse like you. Thank you for challenging me, teaching me and giving me so much joy. But most importantly, thank you for being my soul mate and making me believe that life can be changed because of one special Ottb and a dream. I hope that you are playing bite-the-hand with all the people we have lost the last few years. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough . Make sure you have a good buck and squeal as you gallop through heaven’s doors. I’ll meet you on the other side.”

More Inspiration
(April 3 2005- February 19 2024 )

My $2000 sales investment who I couldn’t sell, stuck around to…

Posted by Holly Jacks-Smither on Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Holly first became acquainted with More Inspiration when he was a two-year-old still on the racetrack in Canada. When his racing career ended at the age of four, his trainer contacted Holly for help restarting and selling him. In the end, Holly’s grandfather helped her purchase the gelding for $2,000 (out of her college fund, no less!) when a buyer didn’t materialize (and she’d begun to take a liking to him, at any rate).

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

As his training progressed, Morris revealed himself to be careful and (as most top athletes are) quirky, to the point where many close to Holly advised her to sell him and move on. He would be too careful for the sport of eventing, they said. Cross country penalties dotted their record as they moved to the Advanced and then-3* level.

Morris was also swaybacked, making him unique and also challenging when it came to fitting tack. “He has to work a lot harder than the average horse because of the way he’s built,” Holly said in an interview with Heels Down Magazine.

But then, things began to click.

Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration at Aachen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

It was a trip to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and its famous indoor eventing class that would be a catalyst for a strengthened partnership between the two.

“[Coach Jon Holling] was hard on me,” Holly told The Chronicle of the Horse back then. “It was, ‘You’re either going to make it work, which I don’t think your horse is brave enough, or you’re going to sell him,’” she said. “I brought him out at Pine Top and jumped him around Advanced, and he was just a different horse after being at The Royal. He’s the bravest he’s ever been.”

The rest was yet to be written. Holly was invited to compete at CHIO Aachen (Germany) by the Canadian team, where she finished 30th individually in what would have been the toughest and most technical test of their skills to date. They’d have their growing pains, but all came to fruition a few years later when Holly achieved a lifelong goal of cantering down centerline in Rolex Stadium.

“You kick yourself now for taking the option because you want to be competitive, but it’s our first four-star and he’s amazing and I didn’t want to make him do something he couldn’t do,” Holly said of her first 5* cross country round. “He came home sound and happy and this horse owes me nothing. He carried me around — I didn’t help him.”

Holly Jacks and More Inspiration. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The pair’s most competitive result at the 5* level came at Pau in 2019, where she and Morris finished 12th. “I’m thrilled with my horse and thrilled with my weekend in general,” she told Tilly Berendt that year. “I’m so glad I made it here – not just to be at the show, but because of the people I’ve met along the way, these amazing connections that will stay with me forever.”

In 2021, Holly announced she was retiring Morris from competition after a heart condition was discovered by a vet ahead of the Kentucky Three-Day Event. He continued to be a large part of her life for the rest of his life, remaining an eternal source of inspiration and gratitude for the thousands of miles traveled and lessons learned.

“You have been with me through thick and thin,” Holly wrote when Morris was retired. “You took me from a gallop girl to a 5-star event rider. You taught me that 5-star horses don’t need to be fancy and well bred. They can have crooked legs, sway backs and huge hearts.”

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