‘I felt the luckiest girl in the world’: final farewell to former four-star eventer

  • The last owner of a former four-star event horse who has been put down aged 22 said she felt “privileged” every day she spent with him.

    Ease on Fire, who completed Badminton and Burghley with Joe Meyer, then evented up to one-star level with Sorrel Porteous, going to to finish his career introducing new eventer Lucy Blain to the sport.

    “It was devastating to lose him, but he’d had an epic life,” Lucy told H&H.

    “He contracted cancer in his hindgut and there was nothing the vets could do for him any more. We tried everything but he kept getting worse and we had to make the decision to let him go peacefully. We tried to fix him but we couldn’t.”

    Lucy explained that having “done all his big stuff” with Joe, “Hamish” went to Sorrel, for whom Lucy started working some three years ago.

    Hamish was injured and although he came sound, it was felt right to call time on all but lower-level competition.

    “He went on loan to a couple of people but it didn’t work,” said Lucy. “He was a very fussy horse and if he didn’t get on with you, you knew quite quickly.

    “He came back from one home and Sorrel asked if I’d just keep him ticking over, and I never looked back. I fell in love with him.”

    Hamish took Lucy, who had never taken part in the sport before, to her first competitions.

    “He was just awesome every time; never anything but double clear,” she said. “He was amazing; a fantastic little horse with so much character; cheeky but unbelievably loving, and wonderful to have on the yard.

    “It was such a huge privilege for me to have him. There’s no way I’d have been able to afford him, or even be in the same bracket as him. He spent his twilight years teaching me the ropes, and I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

    “I was a showjumper, then started grooming at events for Sorrel, and thinking I’d like to give it a go, then Hamish trotted into my life and I never looked back. Now I’m hooked and showjumping’s a thing of the past.

    “It meant just as much to me going round a BE90 as I’m sure it did to Joe going round Badminton. I felt lucky every day I spent with him.”

    Joe said Hamish, who was bred by his father John, by the stallion Exemplar who Joe also rode, was an economical horse.

    “When he was a young horse, he never really showed a huge amount; he just did what he had to, then he’d go to a show and be amazing,” he told H&H.

    “He won a lot as he was coming up through the grades, he’d just cruised along, then when he got to advanced and it got harder, and I started teaching him changes, he was like: ‘Really?!’

    “It was a good learning experience for me too… then he just got better and better.”

    Hamish finished in the top 20 of Burghley as a nine-year-old thanks to an “amazing” performance.

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    “He could be a little bit ditchy and when we got to the Cottesmore Leap, I swear he bellied it,” he said. “He was always going to go but it wasn’t like skipping over it!

    “He was super accurate and easy to ride, an excellent horse.

    “We’ve been incredibly lucky with a lot of our homebreds. [My parents] have always had a knack of breeding nice horses; we’ve got a few little Chilli Mornings coming on now.”

    Joe was delighted by Hamish’s success following his top-level career, adding: “It’s great when horses can go on to a really loving home, and do what they love doing at a level they can cope with.”

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