‘The biggest heart in the world’: farewell to ‘part-pony’ who completed Badminton and Burghley

An event horse whose limit was thought to be intermediate, but went clear inside the time round Badminton’s cross-country, has been put down aged 20 after a happy retirement.

Hannah Bate completed Badminton and Burghley twice each on Finbury Hill, as well as finishing in the top 10 at Blair, Bramham and Chatsworth three-stars (now four-stars).

He retired in 2016 to live with his owner Susie Guild.

“Susie bought him as a four-year-old, from Vere Phillipps, and he came to me to sell aged 11 as they thought he was no more than an intermediate horse,” Hannah told H&H.

Hannah said she jumped the two-star (now three-star) at Weston Park soon after she took on the ride.

“He absolutely flew round and I thought ‘let’s have a crack at Bramham next year’,” she said. “He finished on his dressage score then, and at Blenheim, and at Badminton went clear, inside the time.

“He had the biggest heart in the world – what he lacked in ability, his heart made up for; he was an absolute little superstar.”

Hannah described “Finn” as “a funny little horse”.

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“He had unknown breeding on his dam’s side but we’re sure there was some pony in there,” she said. “He had a whinny like a pony and a face like a pony.

“He wasn’t quirky either; you often feel like the top ones have to be but he wasn’t. He wasn’t a natural mover or jumper, but he was a natural galloper who was super-brilliant cross-country; he always found a fifth leg.”

Hannah became pregnant with her son Billy and hoped to compete Finn, who was “really straight and easy; good to do in all ways” at Tattersalls 2016, after she gave birth but he sustained an injury and was retired.

He went to live with Ms Guild, keeping a homebred company, but succumbed to age-related issues.

“He looked incredible but he was struggling,” Hannah said.

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