‘He was a rascal even in retirement’: final farewell to working hunter pony legend

A “naughty” working hunter pony who made history and counted wins at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) and Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) among his top accolades has been put down aged 28.

Sarah Lears, owner of part-bred Welsh Stambrook Pavarotti, known as Stan, said the 14hh gelding was bought as a four-year-old from breeder Sarah Rook of Stambrook Stud.

“He was a beautiful pony, he really had star quality,” Sarah told H&H.

“I only had a few years left of ponies when we bought him and in that time we had wins at HOYS and the Royal International, in 1999.”

Stan was leased to four homes throughout his career where his success continued. Among his achievements the gelding made history at the British Show Pony Society summer championships in 2002 when he became the society’s first Desert Orchid working hunter pony champion to win the Timberwolf supreme award with Rachel Green. His other achievements included wins at RIHS and HOYS 2009 with Emily Ward.

“He had so much presence and talent but he was so naughty – right until the end,” said Sarah.

“You would really have to try to make sure you were boss as he would do things like nap and refuse to move out of the corner, and he would also buck sometimes. He was very wilful!”

Sarah said Stan returned to her to retire in 2010 and soon became boss of the yard.

“He was a rascal even in retirement,” she said.

“He was a bit too naughty to send him out for a quiet hack with anyone as he would probably have come home without a rider. Eventually we put him with my retired 15.2hh mare Millie and they became inseparable and were very happy together.”

Sarah said Stan was put down on Sunday (19 January) owing to colic.

“He had a wonderful life and was such a character. I posted about him on Facebook and I’ve read so many lovely comments from people who knew him. He will be so sadly missed,” she said.

Article continued below…


WHP makes history at BSPS

For the first time ever a working hunter pony claimed the top award at the BSPS Summer Championships


Stambrook Stud were among those to pay tribute to the gelding.

A spokesman for the stud said: “He was a legend, but only due to the expertise and love from the Lears family. I am so grateful for the wonderful life he was given by them.

“Also to all the fabulous jockeys who rode him, thank you for making him the pony he was. I gather he was still naughty to the day he died, but we loved him for his cheekiness.”

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