He eats the tack, licks cars and loves a cuddle – meet Ros Canter’s Badminton runner-up Lordships Graffalo

  • Which five-star runner-up once licked the vet’s car completely clean when she parked it outside his stable while attending to another horse? The answer is Lordships Graffalo, the characterful 10-year-old who leapt firmly into the five-star spotlight when he finished second at this year’s Badminton Horse Trials under Ros Canter.

    “Walter”, as he’s known, is out of the same mare, Cornish Queen (by Rock King), as another of Ros’s rides, Pencos Crown Jewel, who finished second at Bramham Horse Trials earlier this month.

    Breeder Pennie Wallace sold Pencos Crown Jewel as a foal to Kate James and Annie Makin, who went to the Burghley young event horse final to pick a rider for her and chose Ros. Because Ros had Pencos Crown Jewel, Pennie decided to send me Lordships Graffalo – who was bred while Cornish Queen was on loan to Lordships Stud – to be broken.

    “I loved him from the day I got him and he was always for sale, so I approached Michele Saul, who was looking for a young horse, and asked her if she’d consider buying him,” says Ros of the son of Grafenstolz, who stars on the cover of Horse & Hound this week (issue dated 23 June 2022).

    “He’s kind of untrainable on the ground. He’ll rugby tackle you when you try to put the bridle on and he’s not very good at social distancing.

    “But he was easy to break in and never bothered about the rider. He was quite lazy to start with – he’d get completely left behind ambling along out hacking – but out of the blue he could buck or rear or do something funny.”

    Ros says Walter’s whole family are performers and always pull their best work out of the bag at competitions. He had a string of good results in 2021, finishing first in two CCI4*-Ss at Aston-le-Walls and Blair Castle Horse Trials and second in two CCI4*-Ls, at Bicton Horse Trials and Blenheim Horse Trials.

    Speaking about the build-up to Badminton this spring, she says: “I thought he was ready for Badminton, but I don’t have loads of experience – I’d only ridden Allstar B round the British five-stars before taking Walter round Badminton – plus because of Covid he hasn’t experienced events such as Bramham, which you’d normally do before Badminton. But he’d made the four-stars he had done feel easy, so I had no reason not to take him.

    “On Tuesday at Badminton, his eyes were everywhere, but the longer we were there, the more he enjoyed it. He was unfazed by the prize-giving and stood there with his ears pricked, never having a moment of worry.”

    Georgie Frow, who is the second rider on Ros’s yard, says: “Walter is always causing entertainment – it’s funny to watch if you’re not trying to tack him up! He eats the tack, throws headcollars across the yard, tries to grab hold of brushes. If you leave him too long in the cross-ties, he’ll dribble and throw it to see how far he can get his spit across the yard.

    “He’s cuddly in the stable, especially when he’s lying down. In the winter, when the horses are in more, he has an afternoon nap around 3pm each day.”

    Georgie adds that Lordships Graffalo wouldn’t worry about a massive lorry out hacking, but he doesn’t like purple flowers.

    She adds: “ One day last winter, he went round a corner and just bronced. Then he stood there and looked at me as if to say, ‘Why are you on the floor?’”

    Find out what Badminton judge Christian Landolt liked about Lordships Graffalo in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (dated 23 June). 

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