In this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast, H&H’s eventing editor Pippa Roome chatted to Polly Jackson about her tiny skewbald eventing partner Two for Joy, aka Percy
When eventer Polly Jackson first set eyes on the diminutive 14.3hh skewbald Two For Joy (Percy), who would go on to defy those who questioned if he had the size or talent to make it at the highest level, her immediate thought was that she was going to need to buy a smaller saddle.
“It was quite a shock when I saw how little he actually was,” Polly told Pippa Roome in episode four of The Horse & Hound Podcast. “What really struck me was how compact he was – I could put my hand on the front of his chest and also touch his tail. When they put the saddle on him… it was well down his back and I thought ‘gosh, I’m going to have to get a new saddle!’”
Polly was tipped off about the quirky 14.3hh gelding by Julian Trevor-Roper and Mandy Stibbe, a British eventing team selector at the time, who told her: “If you click, you guys could do amazing things.”
Happily Mandy’s belief that the little horse could become a star with the right rider proved correct, but it wasn’t all plain sailing along the way.
“He was a character, that’s for sure,” continued Polly. “Whoever did ride him had to ride him the way he wanted to be ridden – he didn’t get on with every rider.”
He demonstrated this soon after arriving on Polly’s yard when she invited her head girl to have a jump on him and she “literally flew”.
“On landing [from a jump] Percy let her have it. Next thing she was on a floor looking back at me and she said ‘well he can jump because he can buck!’ We soon realised that Percy was going to be one who said ‘you can ride me as long as you understand the rules’.”
He also made at least one top rider reassess his preconceived ideas about coloured horses not having what it takes to be successful in the competition arena.
“At one winter showjumping show Tim Stockdale said to me: ‘That can’t jump – that should be pulling a cart’…” Percy went on to pulled off an incredibly turn to win the Foxhunter class in front of Tim, Michael Whitaker, Billy Twomey and others. “Then Tim walked over and said ‘OK, I take it back, he’s a bit unreal’ and I said ‘yes he’s pretty special’.”
Our news team discuss the week’s top stories, eventer Polly Jackson remembers her small but mighty skewbald partner Two For
Stephanie Bateman catches up with riders of successful coloured horses – past and present – to find out if their
Polly established a brilliant relationship with the talented skewbald, who was finally put down at the age of 30 earlier this year, which saw them jump around Badminton and represent Britain at the 2005 European Championships.
Polly recalls her great cross-country round at Badminton 2005 with a smile: “It was one of those perfect rounds. He was always a clever thinker and knew where his legs were. The minute you could open that stride up – he had a huge stride so the cross-country always feel easy. He was so adjustable, it was a pleasure to ride. His legs would be up by his ears – you always felt very safe on him. Although he was little, he always had plenty of power and plenty of jump.
“When it’s going your way, there is nothing better than going around Burghley or Badminton.”