Sometimes size isn’t everything, as proved by these miniature eventing power houses who don’t seem to realise that they are a little smaller than the usual stamp of event horse.
Although some of these greats are a smidge over 14.2hh, as the cross-country phase gets underway at the Pony European Championships in Poland (17 August), here are some other diminutive event greats, past and present…
Height: 14.3 1/2hh
Achievements: Ridden by Jane Bullen (now Holderness-Roddam), Our Nobby began his glittering career with a win at the junior Pony Club Championships. Jane’s mother bought him for £120 with the hope that they could sell him on quite easily, but he developed a napping habit and he never left. The pair went on to win Badminton in 1968 and followed this up with a team gold medal at the Mexico Olympics where, aged 20, Jane became the first British woman to win a medal in the sport.
Height: 14.1 3/4hh
Achievements: “Teddy” was by the 16.2hh racehorse Witty Boy, out of a 13hh mare with 50% thoroughbred, 25% Arabian and 25% Shetland pony breeding. Teddy began his eventing career when he was six-years-old with Nicole Villers at preliminary level. Christan Trainor then took him to advanced and he finished eighth at his first CIC2* (now CCI3*-S) before Karen O’Connor took over the ride. Karen piloted Teddy around his first four-star at Rolex Kentucky in 2007 where they finished third. They followed this up with team and individual gold at the Pan American Games the same year. They returned to the Rolex Kentucky four-star in 2008 where they finished sixth. Unfortunately Teddy’s life was cut short after a freak accident at home just a month after Kentucky.
Achievements: “Frosty” was a 7/8ths thoroughbred mare by Java Tiger. She began her eventing career with her owner, Dr Polly Taylor before her long-term rider Phoebe Buckley took over the reins. The pair were ninth at Blair Castle CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) in 2006, and completed Badminton the following year. Together Phoebe and Frosty completed six CCI4*s (now CCI5*) including Burghley and Luhmühlen. The mare retired from eventing in 2011 and continued to enjoy hunting and team chasing until she died in 2013.
Achievements: This 14.2hh New Forest pony took the US eventing world by storm in 2014 and 2015. Lauren De Neve brought “Farrah” out at the lower levels before accomplished event rider Sinead Halpin took over the ride. Together they completed three CIC2*s and two CCI2*’s all clear cross-country (now CCI3*-S and CCI3*-L). Farrah has now been retired from competition due to injury and her owners hope to breed from her.
Achievements: Bred by owner and rider Ellie Crosbie, this little horse by Fleetwater Opposition earnt his name when his breeders realised he wasn’t quite going to grow as tall as they hoped. Despite his size he has jumped clear around advanced and two-star tracks (now three-star).
The Little Frenchman
Achievements: Originally produced by Elle Twentyman, young rider Alice Goring has brought this flashy little pocket rocket up through the grades to advanced and CCI3*-S level.
Achievements: A prolific event horse for New Zealand, “Nugget” was seventh at the 2004 Athens Olympics with his rider Heelan Tompkins. Other notable results included winning the CCI4*-L at Puhinui in Auckland aged 19 in 2005, 17th at Badminton in 2003, fifth at Chatsworth CIC4*-S and second at Boekelo CCI4*-L both in 2002. Glengarrick’s final championships appearance was at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006, by which time he was 20-years-old. But he still recorded an outstanding result, taking seventh. He died in 2015, aged 29.
Achievements: Originally produced by Vicky Tuffs, Ailie Haddow took the diminutive gelding up to intermediate and CCI2*-L level before her sister Olivia Haddow (now Wilmot) took over the reins. Together they represented Great Britain at two young rider European championships in 2004 and 2005 (where they scooped team gold), completed five CCI4*-L’s and finished at Badminton in 2008. “Filius” ended his eventing career with a BE100open win back with Ailie in 2013.
Achievements: Mount of the famous Australian event rider Bill Roycroft, this little horse won Badminton in 1960. Later that year, the duo played an instrumental part in securing team gold at the Mexico Olympics. Bill and Our Solo suffered a nasty fall on the cross-country, but went on to finish the course before Bill was taken to hospital. Here it was discovered that he had broken his shoulder, suffered a dislocated collarbone and had concussion. Despite these injuries Bill discharged himself from hospital to help the team complete and win the competition the next day.
Achievements: ‘Tommy’ made history in 2018 when he became the smallest pony to ever be entered into the CCI2*-L at Melbourne three-day event (7-11 June). Ridden and owned by Australian Jackie Wright, the 14-year-old was originally bought as a companion, but he soon showed his aptitude for jumping and progressed up the levels. Together the pair have completed several international and national two-star events.
Wynara Bronze Medal
Achievements: Also competing in the CCI2*-L at Melbourne in 2018 was Wynara Bronze Medal, who is owned and ridden by Danni Hampton. The 11-year-old gelding and 28-year-old Danni finished 44th out of 80 starters with a clear cross-country round. Danni said: “I am looking forward to a big future with this little guy as he definitely has more to give”.