High hopes for horse caught on film bucking his way around cross-country

The rider of a horse caught on camera bucking his way through his first British Eventing cross-country round has likened him to “a really annoying schoolboy”.

Good Omen III jumped clear showjumping and across country in the Norton Disney BE80 last Friday (19 October), but picked up a few time-penalties owing to his antics between fences.

Rider Tom Fray, an experienced eventer and BHSII coach, said “Naughty Nemo”, a nine-year-old 15.3hh gelding owned by fellow BHSII Jo Holmes-Cole, is “pretty much a delinquent youth who started out life bossing humans around”.

“She got him from a dealer, who said: ‘Just don’t try hunting him’!” Tom told H&H.

“Jo’s done an amazing job getting him to behave when handled, but he still gets led to the field in a bridle and lunge line. He tries to bite, kick you with his front legs, he’ll walk all over you if he can.

“He’s like an annoying schoolboy; he’s just really irritating. But there’s something about him; he’s not nasty about any of it.”

Jo asked Tom to ride Nemo about a year ago, during which time he has made progress.

“When I first met him, he’d be walking round the arena, decide he didn’t like a twig and do [the bucking] across the arena from nothing,” Tom said, adding that Nemo has been comprehensively checked for any physical issues and is fine.

“But he has got better and better. We took him to a couple of dressage shows, and the concern was always if something trotted towards him in the warm-up, he’d do it there, but we got to the point he could do dressage.

“We did some cross-country schooling and local showjumping, and thought ‘Well, let’s enter an 80 and see what he does’.”

Tom said that in hindsight, Nemo may not have had quite enough preparation.

“But he kept all four feet on the ground during the dressage, which is pretty much a first!” he added.

“He bronced like stink after every showjumping warm-up fence but jumped clear, and cross-country was brilliant, except when we turned away from home after fence three and he did that.

“And for me as a coach, it was an amazing point to make about time-faults; you’ve got to have a smooth canter between fences!”

Nemo finished in 18th place, and Tom is hoping to secure a late entry to Horseheath Horse Trials (3) this weekend.

“This all sounds like very bad behaviour but we really feel he just wants to get on with life, he is just very playful and so brave. I think it’s his bravery that makes him the way he is,” Tom added.

Continues below…



“He’s brave to jump all the jumps we’ve ever shown him but also brave enough to throw himself around a bit. He doesn’t feel like he’s trying to get rid of me, he just can’t quite contain himself.

“He feels amazing over a jump and is quite a loose-moving horse, he’s fairly scopey too so I would love to think he has fair potential as an event horse. You wouldn’t look at him and think ‘yes, that’ll go advanced one day’ but I also think he’s the sort that might just surprise you.

“So, a winter of dressage and showjumping, then hopefully next season starts at BE90. If we keep cracking on, I’d like to imagine we’ll get him up to BE100 by the end of next season, and then we’ll see.”

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.