Every day, our horses work for us tirelessly, teaching riding skills, providing therapy and promoting equestrianism. In this series, we meet some of the horses and ponies who are Britain’s unsung heroes, such as Razzle, the Pony Club champion
Started in 1929, the Pony Club is now the world’s foremost equestrian youth organisation with branches all over the world. It aims to encourage and educate children in the pursuit of good horsemanship, and many of our top riders started off in their local branch. Members have the opportunity to try a wide range of activities from dressage to games, and ponies need to be steady and versatile. Welsh section C, 13.2hh Razzle has been teaching his young riders the fundamentals for years, following a first career as a champion working hunter pony.
“My own involvement with the Pony Club goes back further than Razzle’s!” says Razzle’s owner Paula Seedhouse. “I started with the Flint and Denbigh branch of the Pony Club when I was 11. We moved to Cheshire in 1977 and joined Burton Forest branch of the Pony Club — in fact, my previously non-horsey mum got so involved that she ended up running the Prince Philip Cup team!
“I was a branch instructor for many years until my own family came along, and then my children joined the Pony Club when they were old enough. When my daughter Katy was looking for another working hunter pony, we found a lovely Connemara for her. Razzle was owned by the same people — he’d won his working hunter pony class that year at Hickstead, and had qualified for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). Katy put a very convincing argument to me about why we really needed two ponies rather than one, and we bought Razzle as well. It might not be a coincidence that Katy later became a lawyer…!
“Razzle didn’t have the best start in life. The people we bought him from went to see a herd of semi-feral ponies whose owner was unwell and selling up. A scrawny chestnut with a white face caught their eye and they bought him. He put up quite a fight to be rounded up and loaded — he had to be carried up the trailer ramp!
“He certainly went on to leave his past behind. He won his Mountain & Moorland working hunter pony class at HOYS in 2007, just a couple of weeks after we got him, and again in 2009, as well as lots of other high profile wins all over the country, including the Royal International Horse Show.
“When Katy was qualifying as a lawyer, she decided to loan Razzle for a year to a friend who wanted a top class pony to compete. Then, he went on to a series of Pony Club homes in Cheshire and Staffordshire. One of his young riders credits him with giving her the confidence to ride in the prestigious Gold Cup final at Burghley. He’s now with a lovely family at Cheshire Hunt South branch of the Pony Club with his new jockey, Bella (pictured top).
“Razzle’s the archetypal Pony Club pony really — he hacks out first or last and is pretty unflappable. He’s the right stamp of pony for Pony Club activities, he’s got good conformation, he’s tough and sound, he’s well educated and he’s got a lovely mouth so children don’t learn to rag or drag on the reins. He’s got amazing balance, and a good appetite for work — he loves being busy. He’s really sociable, too, and he loves the group and team aspect of Pony Club. He’s ideal for teaching children, as if you say ‘go’ he’ll go, and if you say ‘stop’ he’ll stop. He’s equally happy doing games or a dressage test, and he’s a reliable and confident jumper.
“The only things we’ve ever found where he’s not 100% are water splashes on a jumping course (although he’ll happily walk through rivers), llamas (there are some next door to his current home, apparently it can be a bit of a llama drama) and being given a wormer, that’s always a three-man job! He’s never naughty or nappy, but he will not stand on the wagon by himself. Other than those quirks, which make him the larger-than-life character he is, he’s the perfect pony.
Every day, our horses work for us tirelessly, teaching riding skills, providing therapy and promoting equestrianism. In this series, we
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“Razzle is now 20, and although he’s currently very happy and healthy we’ve put a height limit on what we want him to jump now. If his current rider hits that limit then it’s time for them to move on! Hopefully his retirement is a long way ahead, but when the time comes he’ll come back home to us and be loved and cherished.
“The family we bought him from have been overjoyed to watch him bring joy and success to a succession of young jockeys. He’s given so many children so much pleasure, and taught them the fundamentals of good horsemanship. You can’t ask more of a pony than that.”
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