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Road to Olympia: ‘He used to bolt and jump out of the ring’: Olympia-bound Connemara proves things do get better with age…

Home-produced rider Rebecca Anders proves that perseverance and persistence can pay dividends with a difficult horse, as she is set to complete her Connemara at the Olympia International Horse Show in December, after a challenging few years.

Toorboy Luckey (Simba) has been with Rebecca for 17 years and was bought from Ireland as a three-year-old in 2001.

“My mum and dad bought him for me as a birthday present when I was 11,” said Rebecca, who works as an enforcement officer for Knowsley metropolitan council. “A lot of people told mum she’d over-horsed me and it was going to be a disaster.

“Simba has always been strong minded and things haven’t always gone to plan. His first season in 2002 saw us have a few scary moments. On a few occasions he jumped out of his ring into another, took out line ups and regularly bolted.” 

On the advice of her Pony Club commissioner, Rebecca took Simba to BYRDS talent spotting day.

Rebecca continued: “This did not end well with the the judge telling us that: ‘having a more co-operative pony would have helped make the team’.

“Despite all of his cheeky habits I loved every time we went out. He has always been my best friend. Over the past 17 years he’s been my rock, soul mate and all-round best friend. He’s wiped my tears, healed a broken heart and made all my dreams come true.”

The pair started their SSADL journey when Simba was 16, and had various successes including taking reserve championship in an Olympia qualifier, just missing out on his ticket.

“He continued to be a super-consistent veteran pony, standing reserve for the ticket six times. He was also ridden supreme at the SSADL championship show in 2016. He has now held the trophy for the hunter class at the championships for three consecutive years.

“This season I set ourselves two goals; to have my photo taken by the river at Royal Windsor and to get his hunter trophy back. Anything else would be a bonus.

“We went to Windsor and ended up third and were all set to attend out second rounds at Cheshire, Aintree and Leek. But with a late rule change, mum decided we should go to The Show Register summer show. Simba won his class by eight marks and had the highest score of all the classes. In the championship the judges said he’d caught their eye all day and was a clear champion for them. What made it even more special was that my dad, who doesn’t get to come to the shows, was able to make it and watch us qualify.

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“Without SSADL I wouldn’t be able to compete Simba any more as I am too old to ride in show hunter pony classes. We have met some amazing friends via the series and encourage others to join.”

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