‘The biggest legend of all time’: farewell to Connemara pony who went to the top

  • The owners of a Connemara who enjoyed success in top-level working hunter classes have paid tribute to “the biggest legend of all time”, after her death at the age of 23. Golden Island Star had retired from the show ring but was still in active semi-retirement until she succumbed to a bout of colic.

    Claire Somerset, who rode “Fiona” at events including Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), told H&H her family bought the mare 15 years ago, and she was first competed by Claire’s sister Alice.

    Together, Claire and Fiona competed in mountain and moorland and plaited working hunter classes, more recently turning their attention to British Showjumping.

    “She was the biggest legend of all time; everyone loved her,” Claire said.

    Claire and Fiona were also on the British team that competed at the Royal Dublin Show in 2015, in a competition run by the British Connemara Pony Society.

    “Jumping clear in the 15hh workers at HOYS in 2015 was probably my highlight,” Claire said. “It was a big course; I was terrified, and she just took me round. It was so special to be there, then to jump clear felt incredibly special.

    “Then she came second there in the M&M workers so we went into the championship in the main ring. It was a great day.

    “She was so kind and gentle on the ground – she was amazingly sweet, considering she was such a competition horse; she was the only one my dad could bring in – then as soon as you got on, she was ready to compete and ready to jump.”

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