Through the stable door – The Tolleys

  • Chris King and Frank In The Box

    Owners: David and Jane Tolley

    Rider: Chris King

    Statistics: 5yo 16.1hh bay gelding

    Breeding: By Mayhill out of a Tangle Louis mare, AfricaCompetition record: 1st Hartpury pre-novice, 2ndPurston Manor PN and may do some novice events at the end of the year

    The Tolleys have been involved in eventing for 20-odd years and have produced countless horses from their Gabbits Stables in Kingston Lisle at the foot of the Lambourn downs, including four-star horses Merillion and Hinnegar.

    Jane is an FEI candidate judge and David, a former pilot, is a candidate assistant BHTA steward. They have 23 horses in work, of which four are their own, and 23-year-old Chris King has succeeded the late Robert Slade as their stable jockey.

    The Tolleys bought Frank In The Box from Hamish Rowsell through a Horse & Hound advertisement last year and he has already established himself as the biggest character in the yard.


    “When we went to see him we suddenly saw this horse rearing like the Lloyds Bank stallion on the horizon and we looked at each other and said: ‘Do we want to buy that?'” recalls Jane.

    “He’s intelligent and kind – if he had any evil intent I think he would have ended up in a can. He’s also got a huge sense of humour.

    “Sometimes he won’t do anything and so we put him on the horsewalker, take him for a hack or turn him out instead. Chris is the only person who’s ridden him. I usually ride all the horses, but with this one I’ve kept my feet firmly on the ground!”

    Routine: Frank is so hyperactive that he practically keeps himself fit. He’s turned out and only comes in to be ridden.

    From his loose box he can survey the two arenas. And when he’s not ripping his rugs or trying to talk to the horse in the next box by standing on his back legs, he likes to play about noisily on the gravel drive.

    “We try to vary his work as much as we can,” says Chris. “We’ve always got to think about doing something different, for as soon as he’s done something once he knows exactly what he’s doing and doesn’t want to do it any more.”

    F’ed: Badminton Horse Feeds conditioning cubes are Frank¨s main diet, along with alfalfa, plus he gets a small scoop of Horsefair bio-barley, a probiotic which promotes healthy gut flora and helps him to digest his food properly. It is also meant to have a calming influence on giddy horses. Electrolytes are administered after gallops and he has access to a salt lick.

    His bedding is Sundown shavings, which include a chopped straw mix. “The girls think it’s great for mucking out, and it’s sprayed with citronella so it smells fresh and keeps the flies away,” says Jane.

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