A pony believed to be the first Highland to qualify for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup at Badminton is also being aimed for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
Sophie Beaumont’s 14hh Glenmore of Roisbheinn and Susan Chappelhow-Lacey came fifth in their regional final at Skipton on 4 August to secure their place at the BE90 final next year.
Susan told H&H she had to sell her horses after she had children – her third last January – but Sophie, who is suffering from cancer, asked her to ride “Gromit”.
“He was rather a cheeky monkey, who kept decking everyone,” Susan said.
“When I first got on, he was trying to bolt and bronc; he was rather unruly, so he came to live with me.”
At first, Susan competed in flat showing, then progressed to working hunter classes.
“My passion is eventing so one day I jokingly asked: ‘Could I event him?’” she said. “She said: ‘If you think he can and you’re happy, go for it’. And that was it.”
Gromit’s first British Eventing competition was at Northallerton last July, and he came second to secure his first regional final ticket.
This season, the combination notched up a BE80(T) win as well as two victories and two fourths at BE90 in preparation for the regional final.
“I love Skipton but wasn’t sure it was the event for him as he doesn’t do long hills,” Susan said.
“I wasn’t going to chase the time. I ride him according to how he feels on the day as sometimes he’s enthusiastic and sometimes not – typical Highland!
“I didn’t look at my stopwatch until two fences from home, and we had plenty of time.
“He’d done an 18.3 dressage but unfortunately had one showjump down; he can be a bit lazy over poles which has cost me two HOYS worker tickets this year as he’s had the last one down.
“We’ve got two more chances to chase the HOYS ticket this season – that and Badminton within a year wouldn’t be too bad!”
The pair also compete in novice and elementary level British Dressage classes, and Susan is aiming to try side-saddle next year.
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The super-mule was unfazed by the press attention and his fan club
“We do a bit of everything,” she said.
“He’s a cheeky chap. He wasn’t the most straightforward to start but we’ve built up a partnership and I love how he is now. He’s quirky but I understand his quirks and we’re fine.”
Susan has previously competed in the grassroots Badminton event on her own horses and is looking forward to returning, although she said it will be “interesting”.
“I’ve no doubt of his ability to jump but the biggest thing is the distances; I have to shuffle extra strides in because he’s got little legs.”
Susan thanked her friend Trudy, who grooms for her and looks after her children, all of whom are aged under four, adding “without her I couldn’t do it”.
She also said Gromit’s success has proved a tonic to Sophie, whose cancer is terminal.
“It keeps her going because it’s something else to plan for and aim for,” Susan said.
“The consultant thinks it’s helped keep her here; we keep qualifying for things and I keep saying to her: ‘well, you’ve got to be there then, you can’t miss it.’”
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