‘He lived his days doing what he loved’: farewell to top pony stallion aged 29

  • The owner of a top-track showjumping pony who has died aged 29 has paid tribute to the “incredible” stallion, who has “left a big hole in a lot of hearts”.

    Lisa Rowlands’ Grey Palace, who won and was repeatedly placed in the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) 138cm national finals, had been happily jumping this spring, and galloping on the beach this month, but suffered inoperable colic on 21 April.

    “He lived his days doing what he loved,” Lisa told H&H. “Then so suddenly, it ended. The vet had seen him on the Friday, and given him a clean bill of health, then at 4am on Sunday, that was it. He was an incredible pony.”

    Lisa had owned “Tintin” for about 10 years, during which time he and Lisa’s daughter Tegan won at 1.15m and 1.20m level, were placed at the British Showjumping National Championships members’ cup final and the RIHS winter final, and came second in the HOYS final.

    “When Tegan was little, I took her to Wales and saw him, and thought ‘I’m going to have that pony one day’,” Lisa said. “But he was for sale for hundreds of thousands. He came on the market but I couldn’t afford him, and he was for sale for a long time, so I made a silly offer, and that was that, as they say.”

    Tintin had been competed at top level by riders including Lara Whiteway, Darby Ward, Phoebe Lock (main picture) and Dominique Whittaker, and Jordan Whittaker with whom he won the HOYS 138cm final in 2004. When Tegan was too old to jump 138cm ponies, she competed him in 148cm classes, and when she came off ponies, Tintin went to Emmie Horner, who was jumping him with success until last month.

    “I never wanted to sell him because I didn’t want him to go anywhere I couldn’t save him from if bad things happened,” Lisa said. “The money would have been lovely, but Tintin was better! He went to Emmie and [mother] Sadie for a sleepover and stayed. He was so loved, he owed us nothing and we owed him everything.”

    Lisa said Tegan and Tintin were “a match made in heaven”.

    “She just loved him, and he loved her,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of pressure; everyone would run to the ring to watch her, but it was amazing, and they had a real affinity.

    “He had some famous riders in his time; Jordan came down to see him a couple of weeks ago, which was lovely, and he was a pleasure to have around; really cheeky and loveable.

    “There will never be another pony like him – I know everyone says that but he was so small, he could have been a 12.2hh back in the day, but with the biggest jump and the biggest heart.

    “He lived to jump; that was all he wanted to do, and when he was at HOYS or Hickstead, he knew where he was, and he just revelled in it. He was incredible, and he’s left a big hole in a lot of people’s hearts.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...