Road to RIHS: ‘As a foal he was running wild on a motorway’ — rescue pony qualifies on first attempt in debut show season

  • A six-year-old coloured pony who was rescued as a foal has qualified for the Royal International (RIHS) on his first attempt and is gearing up to make his Hickstead debut next month.

    Lunar Eclipse, a traditional coloured gelding owned by Christine Sullivan, qualified for the final at BSPA South East regional show earlier this year, piloted by Jade Mitchell (nee Algeo).

    Christine acquired “Pepsi” as a five-month-old colt foal.

    “He was picked up on a motorway as a foal running wild with a few other ponies,” said Christine. “A friend asked me if I could take a few on as the rescue centres were full and there was nowhere to place these ponies. At the time, I’d just had a full knee replacement and couldn’t walk so I initially said I wasn’t able to help. However, while I wasn’t keen on taking on an unhandled youngster, I was persuaded and a wild, small and scraggly colt duly arrived on a lorry.”

    Christine and her husband spent the next few months working with Pepsi.

    “It was an interesting time to say the least,” continued Christine. “He was aggressive to approach in the stable and he took my husband mud skiing a couple of times when he tried to lead him.

    “He had a few health issues, too, such as an ear tooth and bi-lateral sticky stifles. We never expected him to mature into anything special. But as time went on, he gradually became more confident and friendly around people. I didn’t quite know what my plans were for him, but I thought at the very least he could be a useful field companion.”

    Fast forward six years and Pepsi has blossomed from an “ugly duckling” into a “beautiful swan”.

    “He never grew big enough for me to ride him, but my good friend, Jade, has taken him under her wing. She convinced me that he was good enough to show and she was right. 2022 is his first year contending the circuit and he qualified for the RIHS on his maiden outing. He’s been placed every time out this year in the qualifying classes.

    “He is a proper little pocket rocket, and has such a character that he has a fan club wherever he goes.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...