Tankers Town – with whom Sharon Hunt won a team bronze medal as part of the British eventing squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – has been retired from competition, aged 18.
But “Jasper” isn’t going out to grass just yet.
Although the chestnut gelding was famously tricky in the start box and feisty in the stable – throwing the odd vicious “left hook” – he is enjoying touring schools with Sharon.
She then talks to children about eventing and being an Olympian.
“He is an angel,” Sharon told H&H, “which is surprising as he’s not been a great lover of attention in the stable.
“But he is brilliant with the children – he stands still and lets them stroke him. We’ve had up to 100 at times.”
Jasper won Luhm ¼hlen CCI**** in 2010, represented Britain as an individual at the World Equestrian Games in 2006, finishing ninth, and twice finished in the top six at Badminton. But he injured a tendon at Pau two years ago.
“I thought he was going to come back this summer, but I couldn’t get him right,” said Sharon. “He’s been phenomenal. He’s started in 11 four-stars; four of those were long-format.”
Liz Bennett, head teacher of Chilton primary school in Stowmarket, Suffolk, said Jasper’s visit had been a great success.
“We are looking at courage and determination this term and what it is like to be an Olympian,” she said. “It was a way of bringing the Olympics to life.”
Sharon added: “My favourite question of the day was, ‘Could he jump the school?’
“Some of the children have never seen a horse before, so they’re always very excited.”
But not all youngsters have been quite so appreciative.
“My sister asked my seven-year-old niece if she’d like me to come to school and show my bronze medal,” said Sharon.
“She said, ‘I don’t think we need to see that – we’ve already seen a silver one’. ”
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (7 June 2012)
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