The owner of a “gypsy cob” who helped win a medal at the London 2012 Olympics has paid tribute to her “amazing character” who was put down aged 23.
Over The Odds was a 15.2hh coloured cob who became a grade B showjumper and helped Yane Marques win the bronze medal in the modern pentathlon.
Owner Samantha Garry had owned “Spike” since he was a months-old colt.
“You only get one like that in a lifetime, who means that much,” she told H&H.
“Life isn’t the same without him.”
Sam first spotted Spike by chance, when she ran into an acquaintance at a sale and he invited her to look at a horse he was selling on her way home.
“I didn’t like that one but I saw Spike tied up in his stable, asked how much [the seller] wanted and that was the start of it,” she said. “I paid £1,000 and took him home.”
Sam had intended to keep Spike, whose sire was “a driving cob with feather from elbows to the floor”, entire.
“But at eight months old, I couldn’t do a thing with him; he spent the whole time on his back legs,” she said. “I run a yard and I don’t have naughty horses, and I didn’t let him get away with anything – but I worshipped the ground he walked on.”
Sam and Spike enjoyed British Showjumping success across the south, including winning a £150 1.25m class at the Royal Isle of Wight Show in 2005 and placings at the Royal International Horse Show.
“I didn’t know as much as I do now so I didn’t go to many shows; it was a bit of the blind leading the blind – but he jumped some big fences,” she said.
“He used to put himself in the lorry – and then he’d always buck all the way back to it; he was the most amazing character.”
But Spike’s biggest moment was probably in Greenwich, after he was selected as one of the horses for the women’s pentathlon.
“He was such a star and it was the most incredible thing to do,” Sam said. “The two weeks there was the most amazing time of my life.
“He took the first girl round, then when he went in with his second rider, the British pentathlete was just coming out and the noise was deafening. Princess Anne was there and everyone must have been thinking ‘what’s this gypsy cob doing here?’ and he just went in and went round; I was so proud of him.”
Samantha described the way the “incredibly handsome” Spike would insist on stopping for a wee on the verge on every hack, stamp his feet until he was allowed a mouthful of grass and insist on being in front on beach rides.
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“Otherwise he’d do these huge flying leaps, like the Spanish Riding School,” she added.
But age and Cushing’s disease caught up with him last month.
“He’d really been retired but was very much part of the yard, in the best stable, obviously, and in charge of everything,” Sam said.
“We buried him in his favourite place in the field. He was so special and I will remember him how he was.”
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In this week’s magazine, out on Thursday 19 April 2018, don’t miss our special report from the British Dressage Winter Championships, plus full analysis from the Grand National — including expert comment, pictures and more. Read our report from the dressage and showjumping World Cup finals, and in this week’s ‘vet clinic’ we discuss the facts about fitness.