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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)