A Connemara pony who hunted 19 consecutive seasons and showjumped for Jersey has been put down aged 25.
Sue Le Moucheux thought she had wasted her time travelling to England when she first saw 14.2hh gelding Paddy as a just-backed five-year-old – but 20 years on, she says she could not have been more wrong.
“I looked over the stable door, saw this hairy monster and thought ‘oh my god, what a waste of time coming’,” Sue told H&H.
“But as we were there, I thought it only polite to have a look – and there was just something about him.”
Sue bought Paddy for her daughter Leanne, and the pair did “absolutely everything” together, from Pony Club to representing the island in the jumping arena.
Leanne started hunting him in 2001 with the Jersey Drag Hunt and after she went to university, Sue took the reins.
“He was such a little star,” Sue said. “Never lame, sick or sorry, and he was such a clever pony. When he was 14 or 15, he decided showjumping wasn’t for him; he realised he could go round the jumps rather than over them and I knew his heart wasn’t in it. But his heart was always in hunting.”
Sue said Paddy would always be leading the field, tackling the “humungous banks” and taking everything in his stride.
“He never knew how small he was hunting,” she said. “He didn’t care if he was next to a 17.2hh; he’d be up and gone and that was it.
“He loved the hounds; if you took him on a hunt ride and hounds weren’t there, he’d get really cross, marching along and looking around for them. But as soon as he heard hounds, he’d be up at the front.”
Sue said Paddy gave pleasure to a huge number of people, from children to a friend of hers who was very nervous but had always wanted to hunt.
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“I said she could take him and I’d follow in the car, in my hunting kit, in case she wanted to stop,” Sue said. “But by the end of the first field, she had a smile from ear to ear and I knew I wasn’t hunting that day.”
Paddy was hunting until three weeks before his death. Sue said she could see in the days beforehand that he was not himself and the vet was called but he died, thought possibly to be owing to liver failure or cancer.
“He took the decision out of our hands,” Sue said. “It was a perfect way to go. He was such a character, a real star.”
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