‘We had to act fast’: coloured pony who nearly died from pneumonia heads to showing finals

  • Despite being in their first season of county level showing, Helen Jackson and her nine-year-old coloured pony Addien Toy Soldier are heading to Your Horse Live after qualifying for the 2022 SEIB Search For A Star (SFAS) finals on their first attempt.

    Addien Toy Soldier, who is known as Billy at home, and mounted police officer Helen landed their ticket at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre.

    West Yorkshire-based Helen has known Billy since he was a six month old foal.

    “He was owned by my instructor and I helped back him,” says Helen, who now keeps Billy on DIY livery. “When he came up for sale six years ago I scrimped and saved to buy him.”

    Billy is a true all-rounder, competing in the show ring as well as in working hunter classes and hunter trials. This season, Helen has stepped him up to the county show circuit.

    “He’s been a slow burner and he’s taught me a lot about perseverance,” Helen continues. “But we’ve had a great season, placing in some Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers, and we’ve qualified for the STARS championships, too.”

    However, at the beginning of the season disaster struck when Billy suddenly fell ill with pneumonia and Helen nearly lost him.

    “We’d been out competing and on leaving the yard in the evening I got a call from someone saying that Billy didn’t look well. I rushed back and he was really lethargic and was shivering and coughing. We rushed him to the vets and tests revealed he had pneumonia.

    “The vets believed it could have been from something as simple as him choking on some hay or feed. We had to act fast; if we hadn’t of taken him to the vets so quickly, he wouldn’t be here today.”

    Billy was given antibiotics and spent a week in the equine hospital before he returned home to begin his recovery.

    “I’m now a clean freak when it comes to his care,” says Helen. “We brought him back into work very slowly and he’s now fully recovered. Our first show back was the SFAS qualifier, which we won!”

    Your Horse Live preparation for the pair has involved hacking, and on their last outing ahead of the final they took the overall supreme title at the North West Open Championships.

    “My job fits in well with showing; I tend to have most Sundays and Mondays off work which is handy for weekend competitions.

    “This will be my first time riding in the SFAS finals, so the nerves are building now,” Helen adds. “I’ve got a lot of support, including from my incredible groom, Ava Greenwood, who comes everywhere with us and is totally dedicated.”

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