“Legendary” gold medal-winning showjumping pony CJ’s Kemosabi has died at home at the age of 26.
The distinctive 14hh coloured cob — whose abilities far outweighed his physique — partnered a string of riders to top-level success throughout the late 1990s and 2000s.
He achieved his career highlight at the 2005 European pony championships in Pratoni Del Vivaro (ITA) when he took home individual gold and team silver medals for Louise Saywell.
He was also twice winner of the Pony Showjumper of the Year at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) —with Andrew Mizon in 2002 and Louise in 2004 —amassing just short of £40,000 winnings in his 20-year career.
“He was a very special pony who gave me all my first major victories and my first gold medal,” said Louise. “I think he must have been the only cob who ever went on to achieve a career like that. He was every little girl’s dream.
“He was so straightforward to ride,” she added. “He had a heart of gold and did it purely because he wanted to please everyone.”
CJ’s most recent owner Victoria Hewitt told H&H he died unexpectedly at home in his stable on Thursday (December 1) and that it had been “quick, quiet and a lovely way for him to go”.
“He’d been out in his paddock in the sun and he’d just walked into his stable. I gave him a cuddle, went and changed my coat, came back and he was gone,” she said.
“It was a shock and we’re upset but he went in the way he deserved. He was well, his coat was shiny and he never looked his age.”
CJ was first based with Victoria, who was formerly married to Steven Smith, early in his showjumping career before being sold to John and Clare Whitaker for Robert to jump.
He had previously been ridden by Carla-Jayne Lambell, who rode him in his first affiliated classes and from whom came his name, Carla-Jayne’s Kemosabi (friend).
“Steven brought him home to our yard in Norfolk as a five-year-old, having seen him at a show, and bought him on the spot,” Victoria recalled.
“He said ‘this little pony is a real superstar’. I said ‘he’s a bit short. He’ll never make those big parallels and the distances in the doubles’. He said ‘you can work on that’.
“He looked like a cart horse in a field but he gave so much confidence to his rider,” she added. “If I left his feathers on he’d have been like a mini Shire and you had to clip him every two to three weeks. He was definitely a one-off.”
Having followed the pony’s career, Victoria said she had been delighted by the opportunity to buy CJ back three years ago.
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He had since been in semi-retirement, competing until the beginning of this year in 90cm and 1m classes with her daughter Heavenli.
“I’m just so happy he had a wonderful last two years messing about and not jumping too high. We called him the King at home, they’ll never be another CJ,” Victoria added.