A pony bought for £230 who became a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) champion has been put down aged 22.
Monivea Magic Rainbow, a 12hh coloured part-bred Welsh section A, “made dreams come true”, not only by winning at HOYS but also standing champion and reserve supreme at the Royal International Horse Show, and “winning at every major society final”.
Owner Pippa Kirby told H&H she had only gone to Ballinasloe horse fair, Co Galway, in 2000 “to have a look”.
“I had no money on me but I saw him and that was it,” she said. “I had to borrow the money from my father-in-law, who thought I was mad, and I bought him with just a blue rope round his neck, and led him back to their house.
“I didn’t even have any children then, but I couldn’t resist him.”
“Magic”, whom Pippa hoped would make a nice show hunter pony, had an interesting past, she found out, as he had been bred in Wales but had been taken by an Irish racing yard in part-payment for some cows.
As he was “a sharp little monkey”, he could only be ridden by older, more capable children in the ring, and Pippa rode him at home.
“But I think that’s what made him so good,” Pippa said. “Despite his size, he had tremendous character, and presence, and regularly out-galloped his larger counterparts; he’s still the smallest pony to win the 148 class at HOYS.”
His successes also included standing champion at the Great Yorkshire Show — where his gallop “raised the roof” — and also winning titles at the Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS), British Show Pony Society, National Pony Society and the Ponies (UK) championship shows.
After he stood coloured pony champion and reserve supreme coloured at RIHS in 2003, his HOYS 148cm native, cob and traditional pony victory was his swansong, as he was retired from top-level showing in the ring.
“We didn’t think he could have done more for us,” Pippa said. “He went on to win almost every workers’ class or cradle stakes he contested; he jumped anything.
“He was sharp, but he was an absolute performer; when he got in the ring, he had so much charisma and presence but he never blinked an eye at anything, whatever the show.”
On the ground, Pippa said, Magic was “terrible to catch”.
“But once you got hold of him, you could do anything with him; he had the most fantastic, lovely nature,” she said.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing — which is why we have asked some of our top riders what they wish
Enjoy some of our favourite updates from equestrian social media channels during the past week
“He was just lovely but he’d been suffering with breathing problems, which had got worse, and we had to make that decision.
“He made our showing dreams come true, and he stayed with us until the end of his days.”
Magic’s riders in competition were Jessica Lewis, Sophie Staveley, Samantha Brayshaw and Samantha Elliot.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.