Road to the RIHS: ‘I didn’t think he’d ever show again’: Fell stallion overcomes cancer diagnosis to qualify for Hickstead

  • A 20-year-old Fell stallion has overcome a cancer diagnosis to capture his place at the 2022 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

    Physics teacher Georgie Lewis-Roberts’ Waverhead Dazzler II (Possum) landed his Pretty Polly home-produced ticket and the section championship at BSPS Area 6 in March.

    Possum returned to work in February after being diagnosed with cancer in November 2021.

    “He had a small sarcoid on his tummy and a biopsy revealed it was cancerous,” says Georgie, who rode Possum to the overall supreme at the 2020 Veteran Horse Society championships. “He had two rounds of laser surgery before several rounds of chemotherapy in both cream and injection form. The team at Field Equine Vets did an amazing job picking up the cancer and getting him back on the road.”

    Possum was given the all clear in early February and returned to work a few weeks later.

    “I’d been hand-walking him throughout his treatment,” Georgie adds. “BSPS Area 6 is a local show and I thought I’d pop him in the qualifiers to have some fun under some knowledgable judges

    “We were a little rusty in the morning as this was only the second time we’d cantered in five months – but later in the day, it was like he’d never been away. He was back firing at his best, especially considering I didn’t know if he’d ever show again.”

    Georgie then gained a second RIHS ticket at Staffordshire County with her novice Dales stallion Fulford Micky, who was contending his first ever qualifier.

    “I was aiming to give him as much experience as possible this year to prepare him for next season,” says Georgie, of her home-produced five-year-old who has enjoyed a successful career in-hand. “I entered him for the RIHS amateur qualifier at Staffordshire, on the basis that it would be good experience for him.

    “When working him in I realised he’d never been to a county show. He took a serious dislike to goats, trade stands and generators!

    “Luckily, when we got into the ring he remembered what he was doing and he was pulled in top. I’ve never been so relaxed being pulled in top before; as he’s only a novice I had no expectations.

    “After the shows and conformation section, the judge asked me to move and it was to a place to face the audience; only when she pulled a Highland pony into second did I realise we’d just won our very first qualifier. I still pinch myself because it seems like a dream to have two ponies qualified for Hickstead.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...