Fell mare fostered by coloured cob after her dam was struck by lightning is off to HOYS

  • A Fell pony mare whose dam was struck by lightning when she was a foal has qualified for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) six years later.

    Paul and Jane Steeples’ Greenholme Kate and Tamsyn Bell-Heather won a strong breed qualifier at the NPS summer championships before taking section reserve, securing her first ever ticket to the prestigious final.

    Kate was bred by the Potter Family of the Greenholme Stud in Cumbria, by Greenholme Warrior out of Greenholme Bethany. Tragically, Bethany was struck by lightning during a storm and died, leaving Kate orphaned at just three weeks old.

    “Bethany and Kate were out in the allotment and Bethany was found dead one morning,” says breeder John Potter. “Kate was just standing next to her dam. Kate was then bottle fed; we tried to foster her onto another Fell mare, but they didn’t take to each other.”

    Kate and her foster dam

    A couple of days after Bethany’s death, a traditional mare who had lost her foal was found locally. She belonged to local breeder Val Carrick.

    “Val rang me and we quickly arranged to bring the mare over,” says John. “She took to Kate straight away and milked quickly. She looked after Kate very well and Kate became a strapping foal.”

    Kate was sold at the Fell pony breed society’s annual sale in October to Paul and Jane as that year’s top-priced filly foal.

    Tamsyn took Kate over when she was a five-year-old.

    “We’re in our second season with her,” says Tamsyn, who produced Kate to three supreme wins during her debut term under-saddle in 2021 and qualified her for the Royal International Horse Show this year. “We’d had a good week at NPS, but were pulled in top in the HOYS qualifier, so the pressure was on.

    “I was over the moon to win, especially since we’ve been on a journey together. We have bonded so well and I adore her. She’s an incredible ride, too.”

    Tamsyn says that Kate definitely exhibits traits of a hand-reared pony.

    “I was not surprised to find out about her start in life,” she says. “She has few boundaries, is very cheeky and definitely thinks she’s part human, part gypsy cob. You could also tell she’d been very loved.

    “She’s got a romantic story; from being so close to being killed, to being the top priced filly of the sale, to qualifying for HOYS. She’s a very special mare, with a big, lovable ego.”

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