Tiny mare who went from Pony Club to advanced eventing put down: ‘The heart of a lion’

  • Dovecote Miss Scally, who took Tanya Buckingham-Lloyd from Pony Club to the junior Europeans and advanced eventing, was put down last Friday (9 February), aged 29.

    “She was the horse that got me into eventing, got me noticed by selectors and gave me the desire to ride full-time,” said Tanya. “We also purchased her full brother who went on to compete at four-star level. Both were really just average horses who you would walk by and not think much of, but both had hearts of lions and once they trusted you they would do anything for you.”

    Tanya was 11 when the family bought Dovecote Miss Scally, who was turning five.

    She said: “I was just after a nice all-round horse to do Pony Club on. She was from a local breeder, Libby Greaves, and her niece Jennifer Cowan had done some working hunter classes on Scally as a four-year-old – she won the Gold Cup at Cheshire County show with Jen. We had no idea about showing but loved the horse.

    “She wasn’t the best on the flat, being part-Clydesdale but she always tried hard – you knew when she found things difficult as her tail would spin like a helicopter – but she was an out-and-out natural jumper.”

    Despite being only 15hh “on her tiptoes”, Scally went on to compete up to two-star (now three-star) level. The pair’s good results in 2004, including three top-10 placings in under-21 open intermediates and seventh in the under-18 championships at Chepstow, resulted in a call-up for the junior Europeans at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy. Competing as individuals, the pair finished 28th with a clear inside the time across country.

    “When we arrived all the other nations laughed at her at the trot-up as she looked like a little pony, but when she finished the cross-country we had numerous different countries trying to buy her,” said Tanya, who also picked out “flying around” the pair’s first advanced at Witton Castle later that season as a highlight. “It was a local event and I had always dreamed of riding through the water there.”

    Tanya Buckingham and Dovecote Miss Scally at the trot-up at the junior Europeans in 2004.

    Tanya Buckingham and Dovecote Miss Scally at the trot-up at the junior Europeans in 2004.

    Sadly intermittent lameness forced Miss Scally’s retirement at the age of 12.

    “She’s basically had 18 years of living life to the full in the field being a nanny to young horses and hanging out with other retired horses,” Tanya said.

    Tanya said Scally was “slowly losing condition” before they made the decision to put her down last week.

    “Despite cantering happily around the field on Wednesday, she stopped eating on Thursday and by Friday we took the sad but right decision to have her put to sleep,” she said.

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