Former racehorse Polar Fox has come a long way since Michelle Honess took him on as a tricky seven-year-old.
The quirky chestnut gelding, by Pivotal, spent three seasons in training and raced as a two- to five-year-old.
He was rehomed after retiring from the track, but was too much horse for his new owners and as a result spent a long time out of work and was billed as “unrideable” before Michelle took him on.
Michelle, who has a background in riding point-to-pointers, came to try him and the pair clicked.
“I’ve had him eight years now and he was tricky to retrain,” she said, adding he is owned by her father, Malcolm Honess.
“Consistent work with him [was the key] and I’ve had help from Lara Dennis and Tory Moore and Jess Parr.”
The combination have gone from strength to strength, with “Foxy” changing from “racehorse to dressage diva”.
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“He loves to dance down the centre line,” said Michelle. “Beyond all expectations, he managed to win the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) East Midlands regional league three years in a row, which qualified us for the RoR National Championships at Aintree.
“It’s like a dream [the places he has taken me and the results we have had] — one of those things you dream about, but you never think is going to come true.
“Foxy always tries his hardest and loves every minute of his new career, proving that racehorses can have another career and be successful at it, with love and dedication.
“This is a horse who was destined for the meat market — now he has found his forever home.”
The pair are competing in the intro championship and are lying in 10th place overnight after their first championship test on a score of 64.02%.
The championship tests are run over two days at Sheepgate Equestrian Centre in Lincolnshire.
Competitors rode their first test on Saturday (21 July) and their second on Sunday (22 July). The winners are decided on a combination of percentages from both tests, with a host of prizes, including a Catago FIR-tech healing rug worth £200 for winners and rosettes to tenth place.
Don’t miss the latest news and updates on the H&H Festival of Dressage on the Horse & Hound website and social media channels, plus a full report in the 26 July issue of the magazine.