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‘One of life’s characters’: farewell to top working hunter pony

Tributes have been paid to an adored working hunter pony with a penchant for clapping and cameras, who has died aged 20.

Andrea Boyle’s 133cm gelding My Blue Eyed Boy died in the field on Sunday (13 September) after suffering from colic.

Andrea told H&H she bought the gelding, known as Fergus, as a four-year-old from Jim Boyle in Ireland with the original intention of selling him on, but said she fell in love “hook line and sinker” and he stayed with her.

Fergus spent his early career teaching many young children to ride but it was his partnership with then 13-year-old Millie Wonnacott in 2010 that led him to stardom.

“Millie came to try him and we couldn’t get her off him. Two days later he went to stay with Millie in Plymouth and remained there for two years,” said Andrea.

“The Wonnacotts were absolutely wonderful, they kept me posted on every moment. During the time Millie had him they just won, and won, and won – it was unbelievable.

Millie and My Blue Eyed Boy’s achievements included being crowned the first ever Noble Bing supreme working hunter at the British Show Pony Society’s summer championships in 2010. At the same show the combination won four classes including a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifier, and two championships.

The pair also competed at Royal Windsor, the Royal International Horse Show, and HOYS that year, and took second place at HOYS in 2011.

“Fergus liked clapping and cameras – the more clapping and cameras involved the more he showed off. All the judges loved him, he was one of life’s characters,” said Andrea.

“Like all top ponies he had his quirks. If you got on and landed in the saddle with a bit of a bang he’d say ‘right, off you get!’. He’s the only pony I knew who could buck people off from a standstill.”

After Millie became too old to ride Fergus in the showing classes, he went on to compete with other young riders in showjumping and was most recently enjoying light hacking.

“It’s a pity Millie didn’t have Fergus two years earlier,” said Andrea. “He adored Millie and Millie adored him. They were a wonderful partnership.”

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Millie told H&H Fergus was a pleasure to ride, and said he was the best pony she ever had.

“He just had that ‘look at me’ presence about him. He had very unusual blue eyes and the judges always said how amazing he looked. He didn’t look like your typical showing pony – it was very hard not to like him,” said Millie.

“It’s so sad that he has passed away, I loved him dearly and it’s especially heartbreaking for Andrea – he was her world.”

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