Talking to Gary Parsonage

  • Owners: Rosemary and Mike Rimmington and Quorn House Publishing

    Statistics: 16-y-o, 16.3hh, bay gelding

    Breeding: Anglo-Arab, by Scindian Magic out of Day Of Grace

    Competition record: Completed Badminton four times, best place 13th in 1998; member of British team and clear across country at 1996 Olympics; individual 24th at 1997 Open Europeans; 14th individually and member of the subsequently disqualified bronze medal-winning team at WEG 1998

    Gary Parsonage, 37, a former hod carrier, plumber and trucker, used to rent a yard in Leics , but the day that Mike Rimmington and his wife Rosemary, who is better known as Rosemary Conley of Hip and Thigh Diet fame, came to him for a riding lesson changed his life.

    The couple took an interest in Gary’s career and became owners. They then decided to build him a yard near Melton Mowbray, complete with its own horse-walker and sand school.

    Gary and Magic Roge (known as Clippy) have been together for 12 years. The pair’sbiggest achievement was representing Britain at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, but Magic Rogue¨s temperament means he hasn’t always been the easiest horse to ride.

    Character: “He always had a huge natural jump, more than anything I have taken on since,” said Gary. “But he was, and is, very quirky, and I always had doubts over whether I would be able to get him to settle at events.

    “When he was young he was really neurotic in the stable, always whinnying and weaving. He wasn¨t malicious, but if you turned your back for a second, he would walk straight out of the stable over you. It was as if he was completely oblivious to you.”

    Napping is another trick in the 16-year-old’s repertoire. “Once he gets to know the area, as soon as he realises he’s coming home, that’s it, he’s off. He spins around and goes sideways. That’s why I’m the only one who hacks him out,” says Gary.

    Gary believes that Magic Rogue is so jumpy because he’s intelligent and watchful, and that those characteristics have helped him as an event horse. “He’s always been spooky, but I think that makes him more careful.”

    There is no doubt that Magic Rogue has found dressage the hardest phase. “I’ve always been regarded as more of a'”jumping’ eventrider than a ‘dressage’ eventer, which is largely down to Magic Rogue because he has always been so difficult when it comes to flatwork.”

    Routine: If Magic Rogue has been competing at the weekend, he has Monday and Tuesday off. Then he will either have a hack or a lunge on the Wednesday and some schooling on the Thursday.

    “I try to restrict myself to fifty minutes to an hour of schooling. If it looks like he needs more time, he goes back in his box and I get him out again in the afternoon.”

    If he’s going to a competition at the weekend, he will have a further schooling session and a bit of a jump on the Friday. If not, he goes for a canter.

    Gary says that it’s not hard to get Magic Rogue fit and that he has always found the endurance phases of a three-day relatively easy.

    Feed: Baileys Horse Feeds horse and pony nuts make up the bulk of Magic Rogue’s diet, although he does occasionally get the odd scoop of coarse mix. Gary is, however, careful to avoid mixes containing molasses, as his vet believes this could hot the horse up.

    “When he was at his peak at 10,11 and 12 he used to do three-days on nothing more than pony nuts,” says Gary, who adds that oats are avoided at all costs.

    Despite his age, the only supplement Magic Rogue has is electrolytes when he needs them.

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