‘We all loved him’: rider pays tribute to star Connemara

  • One of the most versatile UK-bred Connemara performance ponies of the past decade has died aged 22.

    Elaphine Murphy, bred and owned by Sally Fuller-Lewis, was by Kirtling Tam O’Shanter out of Laetitia.

    Backed and competed by Julia Woods, he qualified multiple times for Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International mountain & moorland working hunter pony finals; competed at affiliated eventing and qualified for the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships at Badminton.

    The combination represented St Edmunds Riding Club, Suffolk, in every discipline and were members of its second-placed team at the 2008 British Riding Club’s quadrille final. They started eventing in 2007 and won their first three affiliated events at British Eventing (BE) 90 and 100 level.

    In 2012, Julia’s pupil Mia Biggs, then aged nine, started riding Murphy, who Julia described as the “ultimate schoolmaster”. The pair enjoyed taking part in rallies and competing on teams with the Soham branch of the Pony Club.

    “He wasn’t a classically beautiful show Connemara, but he had fantastic movement, a lovely jumping style and an amazing temperament,” said Julia.

    “If you asked him to have a go at something, he always said yes.

    “I always say he was clear cross-country throughout his career, because the only time we got anything other than time faults was when I jumped one of the novice fences on a pre-novice [BE100] course by mistake. Murphy, as always, assumed I knew what I was doing and took it on quite happily.

    “Mia was tiny when she started riding him, but he looked after her beautifully, even though his 14.2hh was a big step up from her Welsh Section A. He loved doing Pony Club things with her just as he loved doing the quadrille with me.”

    Continues below…

    Murphy spent the last two years hacking with Sam Gee, a friend of Julia and Sally.

    Sam loved him, just as we all did,” said Julia. “We all feel that he’s gone too early, and we’ll really miss him.”

    By Carolyn Henderson

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