Ros Canter on the horse who kick-started her career: ‘He’s a glass half-full person with a really loud whinny’

  • We all think of world champion Allstar B as the horse who made Ros Canter’s career, but she gives much of the credit to the now-retired Zenshera.

    Ros says the 18-year-old Dutch warmblood “remains my pride and joy” in an interview on this week’s Horse & Hound Podcast (episode 106), supported by Equipe and their UK distributor Zebra.

    “I absolutely adore the horse,” she says. “He’s now retired from eventing, but I still enjoy riding him at home when I have time and doing some dressage on him.”

    Zenshera (known as Alfie) had numerous good results at the Continental five-stars, finishing in the top seven at Pau Horse Trials three times and in the top 10 at Luhmühlen Horse Trials – an event that has its 2022 running next week (16-19 June) – twice, including being third in 2018.

    “We chose never to take him to Badminton Horse Trials or Burghley Horse Trials because he was a little horse without much blood, so we decided he’d be more specialist at those kind of events,” remembers Ros. “And we just had a great time. My Mum owns him with me so she always came to groom for me and it was a bit of a family occasion. We were always very proud of Zenshera every time he went round an event like that.”

    Ros first rode Alfie when she was sent to Jan Greve’s yard in the Netherlands to get some experience while she was working for Judy Bradwell.

    “Alfie was the first horse that I was put on there to see how I rode,” says Ros. “He wasn’t deemed talented enough to be a showjumper, which was what they were breeding at the time, so they had been using him for carriage driving, which was Jan’s hobby. They were hoping to sell him to America to be a carriage horse until I came along.

    “Jan persuaded me at the end of the two weeks that I might want to buy him, although I was less sure because he hadn’t shown a lot of talent over a showjump. But Jan very kindly sold him to me for a very reasonable amount of money. He was a six-year-old bay gelding that had a pretty head, so I thought I might do a few BE100s on him and move him on, and I probably wouldn’t lose money on him. So we took a gamble.”

    The rest, as Ros says, is history.

    “I had lots of fun on him that summer. One of my other horses wasn’t going very well, so kept him a bit longer. He ended up staying because we all loved him. He was quite neurotic as a young horse, very tense in the dressage and he’s always been well known by all the riders and grooms because he has an extremely loud whinny, and he uses it on a lot of occasions. So he got quite well known for being loud and annoying. But he just kept on going and he did everything with a smile on his face.”

    The pair were on a number of winning Nations Cup teams before Zenshera sustained an injury.

    “That really knocked me for six because I thought he was going to be the horse that would take me my first five-star and thankfully at the time Alby [Allstar B] had just come into my life and so he was able to take over a little bit,” says Ros. “We gave Alfie lots of time and he came back and he and Alby ran together for the next few years at five-star.

    “Alfie is just always a glass half-full person. He doesn’t have a bad day, he’s always happy at home. He happily now at the age of 18 trots around the school with anybody on and enjoys being ridden. So that’s why I think we all love him so much.”

    Hear Ros talking about her Badminton runner-up Lordships Graffalo and more on episode 106 of The Horse & Hound Podcast here, or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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