From horses relaxing in the living of lorries to shopping in Lidl or playing tennis, we round up some of the knockout stories of the year
1. Watch out Wimbledon
The groundsmen at the All England Lawn Tennis Club may well be having sleepless nights having watched four-legged players Chester and Rocky give the game a go during Wimbledon fortnight. With instructors Jen Hesketh and Fernanda Zuniga from Wimbledon Village Stables, the horses battled it out on Wimbledon Common — before jumping the net as a grand finale.
Exmoor ponies may be more accustomed to wild moorland and a bracing Somerset wind, but Monsieur Chapeau and Farleywater Lady Stumpkin Pumpkin had their taste of stardom on ITV’s This Morning programme in November. Co-founder of the Moorland Exmoor Foal Project Dawn Westcott brought Monsieur Chapeau onto the show to tell presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield about the pony’s rescue — and on the way out of the studios, Monseiur Chapeau met American superstar and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger. “That was just surreal,” said Dawn.
3. Naked riders
Hi-viz is one option for encouraging traffic to put the brakes on and take a wide berth. Alternatively you could strip off — which is exactly what hundreds of riders did as part of the “Slow down for my horse campaign” that was launched on Facebook this summer. “Will you slow down for me now?” was the slogan that accompanied the pictures they posted online of themselves in their underwear.
“Oh no, I’ve done it again, this isn’t the vets,” said the man leading a pony down the aisles of a Lidl store in Kent in September. The grey pony caught shoppers by surprise, but it only got as far as the bakery department before security swept in to remove it.
Think of your horse hero — and Valegro is up there. But when a bracelet containing a lock of the dual Olympic gold medal-winner’s hair was auctioned for $12,000 (£7,726) in June, we started to question our devotion… The bracelet was made from plaited hair from the dressage star’s tail, nine-carat yellow gold engraved with “Valegro”, and 64 diamonds. All the funds went to the worthy CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust.
6. Cooling off
As temperatures soared in August, one piebald pony casually cooled off in a park’s public paddling pool — to the horror of passers-by, who spotted the pony’s bath time. Little did the piebald know, the picture that was posted and shared on social media caused uproar among local residents in Hull. “That is just staggering,” read one tweet.
When event rider Abbie Brannigan spotted her horse peering out of the living in her lorry at Larkhill in April, she got a shock — but Boskenwyn Lad (Kenny) didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “He did no damage at all to the lorry,” said Abbie. “He just pulled everything on the floor looking for his favourite thing — cheesy chips and ketchup!”