Phoebe Buckley’s popular mare Little Tiger has been put down aged 18.
Frosty, as she was known at home, was put down at 8am this morning (Wednesday 29 May) due to joint issues in her off-fore.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Phoebe told H&H. “I will miss her so much. But we had to make a decision sooner rather than later and we didn’t want her to suffer.”
The diminutive mare — she stood just 14.3hh — gained a huge following eventing at four-star level with Phoebe.
She was retired from the sport in July 2011 aged 16 and has been hunting and team chasing since. (Photo below by Nico Morgan of Pheobe and Frosty out with the Cottesmore.)
“She’d been hunting and had loved it,” said Phoebe. “Her joints would be a bit creaky the next day but she was fine.
“But the past six weeks she’d looked more uncomfortable. We had her X-rayed and weren’t happy with it. There was a lot more going on there than she’d been telling us. Her tough mentality had kept her going.”
Phoebe added that she had cross-country schooled her just three weeks ago. “She gave the young horses a lead and was amazing,” she said.
The gutsy mare was also notoriously difficult to catch.
“I went to say a sentimental goodbye on Monday, and spent 45min chasing her around the field,” added Phoebe. “She was so happy.”
By Java Tiger, Frosty started eventing with her owner, Dr Polly Taylor, with Phoebe taking over in 2003.
The pair went on to complete six four-star three-day events: Badminton four times in a row (2007-2010), Burghley in 2008 — where she gained her best placing, 16th — and Luhmühlen in 2010.
“Two memories really stick out,” said Phoebe. “Her last run round Burghley, she fell but had been going so well. I just remember thinking ‘this is easy! Going round Burghley shouldn’t be easy…’.
“And the other was when she came third in the Melton Hunt Ride. Everyone said I was barking mad to take her round as she’s so small but she loved it! By the end she wanted to go again.”
• Look back at Little Tiger’s career in pictures