British rider Steph Croxford has said goodbye to her charismatic grand prix dressage star Mr President.
The driving-bred gelding, bought for £2,500 as a newly-backed youngster from an advert in a local newspaper, went on to achieve top-level glory across Britain and Europe.
His journey from fun horse to dressage star with elite amateur Steph, an environmental geologist, captured the public’s hearts.
Mr President was put down aged 25 on 20 November following a happy retirement after his stellar career.
“He was responsible for sending us on this lifelong journey of over 20 years, so far,” said Steph.
“It is because of him that we moved to this small Derbyshire village and set up house here, producing a wonderful life for our children and ourselves.
“We owe him so much, as our decisions over the past 20 plus years have been mainly aimed around him and his life.
“It’s because of him, I am where I am today. I know that horse would have died for me. If ever there was a horse that I would want to ride into battle with, it would be him. I knew he would have willingly given his life for me.
“When riding him, it was just like putting on a glove. I didn’t know where I finished and he began. We were of one mind. Simon always joked that he was my second husband.”
The eye-catching chestnut was named after US President, Bill Clinton, for the way he would round-up and court the mares in his field, and spent his first years with Steph enjoying cross-country, showjumping and local one-day events.
The pair’s remarkable journey to top-flight dressage started with a remark by a trainer at a cross-country schooling session, that the horse belonged in the dressage arena.
Mr President was by a Gelderlander x Hackney stallion, out of a KWPN mare, and he oozed natural ability and presence.
The gelding reached prix st georges by the aged of seven and started his grand prix career as a nine-year-old, with Steph training many of the movements out hacking.
“Many people know our history together, but had I not seen that small advert in The Yorkshire Post advertising a 16.1hh chestnut four-year-old gelding, things would have been so different,” added Steph.
“Because of that advert, we had 22 years of pleasure together. We travelled all over Europe competing, we were on target for the Beijing Olympics, before an injury halted play for a while. He came back fighting and enabled us to be part of several Nations Cup teams and competed in numerous World Cup qualifiers. He even gave Richard Davison a few months of entertainment, whilst I was pregnant with Annabelle.”
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His grand prix career spanned 10 years and included wins in the freestyle at Saumur CDIO in 2007 as well as the grand prix specials at Biarritz later that year and at Hartpury in 2009. They bagged top-10 finishes at all three of their Olympia appearances and Mr President was retired to a standing ovation following his final test at the 2013 National Championships at Stoneleigh.
“‘Rim Rim’ was and will always be number one in our hearts,” said Steph, thanking Agnew Equine vets and Redferns for their care and understanding at this difficult time.
“In Arnie Agnew’s words, as he slowly drifted from this world; ‘Some horses, you could write a book about, but with him….he could write an entire trilogy’. He simply was ‘a one in a billion’ horse that shall never be forgotten in our hearts. We love you Rim Rim and I know we will be together again, dancing around those fluffy clouds. Sleep tight our precious boy.”
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