It has taken me a long time to feel ready to write this blog after receiving some very sad news, so apologies for the delay.
People always say you never know what’s around the corner and this was certainly true for me. After a good two days at the NPS Spring Festival, I dashed to the airport to jump on a plane to India for work.
The day before I was due to fly back, I received a devastating call from my friend Rachel, who was up at the field where my retired pony of a lifetime Snip lived.
She said he had a large swelling above his knee and was severely lame — the vet was on the way, but it wasn’t looking too good.
Stuck on the other side of the world, I frantically tried to get hold of my mum, who happened to be working that day. Eventually after an agonising wait the news came back. My one-in-a-million had broken his leg and so very sadly had to be put to sleep. To say I am devastated is an understatement.
Snip — or Stanley Grange Puppeteer to give him his posh name — was bought for me by my mum back in 2004 just before Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) that year.
Although the ride was offered to me at HOYS, I have never not qualified my own pony and felt his old owner deserved her last ride on him. He finished the class in second place leaving me with a lot to live up to.
We spent the first season getting to know each other, but qualified in the intermediate show riding type and hacks for both the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and HOYS. He gave myself and mum endless pleasure.
In 2006 Snip made all our dreams come true by winning the RIHS SRT class, making it the first time I had ever won such a big show.
He also was champion at BSPS that year, giving me my moment in the spotlight. Even if he was totally insane in his lap of honour, I didn’t care and couldn’t stop smiling.
I believe he is still the only intermediate to win Royal Windsor three years in a row — coming up from last in his final year with me.
When it was his day, he was a faultless performer that was a joy to watch and ride. He taught me so much in and out of the ring and would always remind you every now and then he needed to be “ridden”.
He was never a great hack for this reason and you could see the lack of enjoyment in most judges’ faces as they tried to sit to his rather bouncy canter! Never one for small indoor rings, he was fifth at HOYS with me but always saved his best for the big outdoor rings.
He was a quirky pony who loved you to death. He would lick and lick you with his very long tongue and always tried his hardest but you had to know him. You could never travel him in the middle of a lorry, he wouldn’t hack alone, he had probably the worst feet I have ever seen on a pony and he could really launch himself when the time suited!
He was famously nearly shot as a youngster as no one could get near him and was only given a second chance when a horse whisperer went to the Stanley Grange Stud to give him one last opportunity. I thanked every day I owned him that he did. I think in his old age however he was certainly returning to his feral ways!
We retired him three years ago after many happy memories and he lived the life of luxury at my friend’s house with his best friends Blue Habbit and Sion St Daniel. And that is how he ended his days — with the sun on his back, his best friends at his side and a packet of polos from mum. He could still move for fun and wouldn’t have looked out of place in the ring today.
I am still totally gutted I didn’t get to say goodbye. I’m not sure I will ever get over not being able to give him one last kiss and tell him how special he was to me.
A truly beautiful pony and probably the best partnership I have ever had with a pony. For me and mum it is a very sad end to probably the best era of our lives. We both look back at the fun we had in those golden years with our showing friends and I can’t thank Snip enough for providing us with that.