The owner of a mare who won multiple Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and county titles has paid tribute to her “perfect pony”, who has died aged 26.

Welsh lead rein specialist Colne Heiress was put to sleep last night (11 June), suffering from what the vet believed was a tumour.

“Nothing we did was going to help so very sadly, we had to make the decision,” said Geraldine Bland, who had owned the mare for 12 years.

“She was absolutely irreplaceable; there isn’t another like her. Not because of what she won but because of her as a pony.”

The 11.2hh mare, who was produced by Julie Templeton throughout her career, was twice lead rein winner at HOYS and was also HOYS supreme champion, as well as winning “every county championship you could name”. She was officially retired at a ceremony at HOYS in 2006.

“She was described as ‘the perfect pony pram’ by [H&H showing columnist] Stuart Hollings and I think he meant she taught so many tiny jockeys, not only to ride but to be horse children. She was kind to them.

“She was just brilliant; you could let a two- or three-year-old child lead her back to the stable at Royal Windsor Horse Show, through the crowds and microphones and dogs and she’d just let them. There aren’t many show ponies who’d do that.”

Since the pony’s official retirement, she had bred a “fabulous foal”, competed at lower-level showing and was ridden by Mrs Bland’s younger children and a friend’s granddaughter.

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“She retired at 14 as she’d done enough for the world, she’d won everything,” Mrs Bland said. “But even last year, she was out winning locally, and teaching the children to ride and groom.

“She was unique and irreplaceable; absolutely one in a million.

“I don’t think there will ever be one to match her; she was the perfect pony.”

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