Farewell to ‘quite spectacular’ 45-year-old JA jumping pony

  • Tributes have been paid to a showjumping pony who “had something in her that was quite spectacular”, after she was put down at the age of 45.

    Owen and Sue Evans had to say goodbye to JA 13.2hh Highfields Royale (Honey), whom they had owned for 18 years, last Tuesday (19 April).

    Sue told H&H the family bought the mare in 2003, for Laura, then 12, and Sam, then 10. Although Honey was in her late 20s by then, she still had showjumping success with Laura, and was ridden by both girls at home and at local events.

    “They even took her to a couple of showing shows but trying to show a JA pony didn’t really work!” Sue said. “She was an adorable pony, with a wonderful temperament, and so laid-back, you could do almost anything with her.”

    This excluded “getting a needle anywhere near her”, Sue added, and clipping. On one occasion a few years ago, the family found Honey had collapsed and called the vet, thinking it was her time to go.

    “The vet said he’d give her painkillers and see how she was,” Sue said. “She pulled out her battery clippers and turned them on and Honey was up like a rocket. The vet said ‘There’s not much wrong here’.”

    On another occasion, Sue said, Honey got drunk.

    “We found her lying in the field one day, and when the vet came out, it turned out she’d eaten so many pears from our tree, they’d fermented and she got drunk,” Sue said. “She was a real character, something so special. And we cut the pear tree down after that.”

    Nikita Clark owned and jumped Honey in the 1990s, winning 128/138cm handicaps among her successes.

    “I didn’t know she was coming; she was a surprise present for my 11th birthday,” she told H&H. “We had six months getting to know each other; she was very speedy but I slowed her down a bit, much to her disapproval! And we did some really good classes and shows, she was just brilliant. She got in the ring and knew exactly what she was doing, she loved her job.”

    Nikita lives near Owen and Sue, so was able to visit Honey in her last home.

    “It’s been really nice to stay in touch,” she said. “My daughter rode her too, when she was four and Honey was 41; it was amazing to have my daughter ride my old 13.2hh. I’m so lucky to have been able to still see her, and that she had such a wonderful home with Owen and Sue, being cared for like she deserved.

    “I can’t believe she made it to that age; she had something in her that was quite spectacular. She was absolutely one in a million.”

    Sue said the decision was made owing to irreparable tendon issues.

    “Two weeks before, if you’d have taken her in the manege with a course of jumps, she’d have had a go,” Sue said. “In her mind, she could still do it. I can’t believe how many people have been in touch who knew her. I know we did the right thing but she’s left a huge gap.”

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