Former hunter becomes championship-winning TREC horse

A retired 20-year-old hunter has found a new lease of life competing at TREC — winning the British level 3 pairs championship in his debut year.

Selle Francais gelding Pous had spent the past 10 seasons whipping in with the Woodland Pytchely, but has made a seamless transition to TREC, winning all four of his competitions with new rider Sarah Vaughan.

Sarah loaned the “bouncy” 15.3hh from her friend Kate Pegrum, who she hunts with.

“Kate has one of my youngsters to break in at the moment and I was having a confidence crisis — she said have Pous on loan, he’ll sort you out,” Sarah explained.

Sarah has been competing at TREC since she was 12 and featured on the British young rider team in 2009 and 2010 but this year with Pous has been her most successful to date.

“He has all the skills to do it because of his hunting background, which has given him the underlying fitness and ability, and he’s so good at it because he has been so well schooled and well ridden by Kate,” Sarah said.

“At TREC you have to cover distances at set speeds and one of the speeds at the British championships was 5kph, rising 1km up a steep 400m track across grouse moors. My mum’s horse [who Sarah pairs with] was ready to throw in the towel but Pous is so ready to get on with stuff from his hunting that he just keeps going.”

“As Pous has shown, you can pick TREC up with any horse and be competitive, it’s so inclusive – whether they are ex-racehorses or gypsy cobs,” she added.

Level 3 is the highest level of pairs it is possible to compete at and consists of three phases — an orienteering ride, the control of paces corridor and the obstacles course, which includes jumps of up to 90cm.

“He jumps brilliantly and in the control of paces section — where you have to canter as slowly as possible and walk as quickly as possible — he scored a maximum 30/30 in two of his competitions. I only know of two or three other horses that have done that in England,” she said.

Sarah added that she was still hoping to hunt Pous a bit over the winter.

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“He is one of those awesome horses that makes you love what you are doing,” she said.

“Hopefully I will still get a chance to hunt with him a bit this season — he gets cross when he sees hounds go past and he’s not allowed to follow.”

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