‘He’s so grumpy at not going out!’ 23-year-old event horse aiming at four-star level once competitions restart 

  • The owner of a 23-year-old advanced eventer who managed part of one competition this season before lockdown is hoping eventing may return to allow them to compete at four-star level this year.

    Cathi Osmond-Smith told H&H her Dutch warmblood Pedro IV has no desire to be retired yet – quite the opposite.

    “He’s very stroppy at the moment with no competitions on,” she said. “He’s usually really well-mannered, and follows you around, but now he’s pushing and shoving, lively but so grumpy, as if he’s saying, ‘Why aren’t we going out?’”

    Cathi bought Pedro as a 13-year-old, after he had started his career in dressage with a friend of hers and moved on to showjumping with another friend.

    The combination went up through the levels together, from BE100 to three-star, and the aim was to step up this season.

    Picture by Spidge Event Photography

    “I was thinking about catching a lift abroad with someone to do a four-star there as he’s done a few advanced and three-stars and found them easy,” she said. “But we did one dressage at Tweseldown this season, and it was abandoned because of the weather, and that’s been it.”

    Cathi said she does not aim to be competitive at these higher levels, but “if we get through the finish, I’m really pleased”.

    “I’ve never put any pressure on him, the only pressure is whether I’m going to mess it up!” she said. “The only time he’s ever stopped across country is if I’ve really stuffed it up and if he feels I’m a bit nervous, he takes charge, as if to make me sit up and say, ‘Come on, we’re going to do this’. He’s so honest.”

    Cathi said age has not calmed Pedro, whose first event of the season she will always write off owing to his excitement, and who tolerates the dressage because he knows what is to come.

    “He doesn’t like dressage so it’s just about whether we can complete the test without being eliminated or put on a watch list – whichhappened once because he bucked so high in the test, they wondered if I’d stay on jumping,” she said. “He likes to throw a few shapes in the showjumping; he’s usually either clear or has four down, but then it’s all gung-ho on the cross-country.”

    Cathi said she has wondered over the past couple of years whether it might be time to retire Pedro – “but I’ll know,” she said.

    “You can’t really tell in the dressage because he doesn’t like it but then he’ll launch out of the start box and jump the first by about six feet,” she said. “He’ll let me know when he doesn’t want to do it any more.”

    Cathi said Pedro is well maintained, fed carefully, checked frequently by her “back man” and not over-schooled or over-jumped, which she thinks has helped keep him going.

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    “When he does retire, it’ll be at the top,” she said. “He’d be so cross if I tried to jump him round a novice; he is not a schoolmaster!

    “If we can get out by the end of July and do the advanced at Aston-le-Walls, we might aim for the four-star at Jardy near the end of the season, if all goes well and everything’s running.

    “It’s lovely to be at this level, and to have been taken there by him.”

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