The death of a popular show hunter pony (SHP) cast a shadow over the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Winter Championship show at Arena UK, Grantham, at the weekend (Sunday 4 April).

The Elliott-Grooby family’s prolific-winning 153cm contender Vaguely Venture is believed to have suffered a heart attack, triggered by a ruptured aneurysm.

The nine-year-old became unwell while competing in the ring and was taken back to the lorry park. Despite prompt veterinary attention, he collapsed and died 10 minutes later.

“We are all devastated,” said Leicestershire-based Charlotte Elliott-Grooby, 15, who campaigned him mostly in 153cm SHP ranks but had recently started to contest intermediate show hunter classes.

“We were told it was probably an aneurysm in his brain which triggered the heart attack. It could have formed at any stage in his life — possibly even as a result of worm damage when he was a youngster — but we cannot be 100 per cent sure as we have not had an autopsy.

“We only had him for one season but I have never known a kinder, more stunning horse and I was so lucky to have owned him. He took every show in his stride and I am heartbroken.”

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The Grooby family acquired Vaguely Venture from Katie White after he competed at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2013 — where he was fifth — and he was produced by Katy Carter.

Since joining Charlotte, he was seventh at the Royal International (RIHS) and qualified for HOYS last year, winning at Lincoln County and The Great Yorkshire Show.

He was third with Charlotte in his RIHS qualifier at Arena UK the previous day, and had booked his return ticket to Hickstead.

Vaguely Venture was also fifth at HOYS in 2011 with Katie, who campaigned him for three seasons.

“We qualified and were placed at RIHS and HOYS every year, as well as standing champion at BSPS championships, Ponies (UK), Kent County, Three Counties and Suffolk,” said Katie. “He’s the horse that will always be my favourite and the bond I had with him was so special.”

Read the full report from the BSPS winter championships in Horse & Hound magazine (16 April, 2015)

  • Hannah GowneyHedges

    He was a show horse! They’re hardly over worked. We can’t attribute every horse death to over work and over training, in fact I would think a very tiny proportion would be, if any. Aneurysms can happen at any time. If a very fit human dies suddenly, no one suggests it’s because they’re too fit or trained too much (I’m not talking about those who use anabolic steroids), why would it be any different in horses who, in fact, have a body far better designed to withstand hard work than humans.

  • Christina Zygakis

    This is to remember that horses have physical limits, just like humans… RIP in Heaven’s horsey land, sweetheart…

  • Laurel Hoare

    It is for the soul that lost his life – and those that loved him but – was the training too much for him – he has been there, done it – was it just too much – just asking – it happens – an awful lot is asked of performance horses – sometimes too much – just asking that’s all

  • AnimalWhisperer

    This is a tragedy indeed. X