Carriage driving superstar dies: tributes paid to top team horse

  • A star driving horse his owner described as the “loveliest monster” has died aged 19.

    Hungarian Lipizzaner gelding Ziggy was a wheeler in Pippa Bassett’s driving team from 2002 to 2015.

    He was part of the team that won the four-in-hand national championships in 2007 and 2012.

    “He was such a big character,” Pippa told H&H. “He was a monster to break and with any new grooms he would stand up and let them slide off.

    “He used to test everybody — but once you were on his side he would do anything for you.

    “He was the best marathon horse you could ever have and he was very clever.”

    Ziggy was part of the team who came 19th at the 2012 world four-in-hand championship at Riesenbeck in 2012, helping Pippa to be top-placed woman and British driver.

    He competed in more than 100 national and international competitions.

    “When I had to retire him two years ago I didn’t know if I wanted to drive any more — I didn’t want to go to events without the devil,” said Pippa.

    Adrian MacLeod, Pippa’s friend, added that Ziggy was a “true individual” to those that new him.

    “Brave, honest, strong and a real character, he sadly passed away this month having given his heart and soul to a sport he loved,” he said.

    “Although he wasn’t the oldest horse ever to compete, he must be in with a shout of having the greatest longevity in one of the toughest equestrian sports.

    “Almost everyone who rode him has a story where they ended up hitting the ground, yet all speak of Ziggy with huge affection.

    “He was that kind of horse — he wasn’t mean, it was just his enormous zest for life.

    “At the 2012 World Championships, he was so keen to see the rest of the team that he released himself from FEI quarantine, galloped past the security guards and straight up to the others.

    Continued below…

    “Many of Pippa’s helpers and sponsors who offered to hold Ziggy while he grazed after a marathon found themselves flat on their faces as he spotted a peculiarly tasty patch of grass in the distance. One poor lady was catapulted backwards over a wheelbarrow.

    It was a kind of honour to be dragged by Ziggy. One can only imagine the kind of havoc he’s creating in heaven, having jumped, or barged through, the pearly gates.”

    Pippa added that she “used to pretend Ziggy wasn’t my horse” during his cheeky episodes but she “couldn’t do without him”.

    “Even on the last day he was playing up the groom,” she said. “He was a monster right up to the end but the loveliest monster.

    “He will be greatly missed.”

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