Rescue pony scoops first British Eventing win by huge margin

A pony who was rescued from a freezing, flooded field as a yearling has scored his first British Eventing (BE) win.

Rasta, owned by Suzi Swete, was the runaway winner of the BE90open at Tweseldown on Saturday (12 October) with rider India Wishart.

The pair led from the start with a smart test, which was rewarded with a mark of 21.5 penalties from the judges. The 14.1hh six-year-old jumped double clear, adding just 1.2 cross-country time-faults to their sheet to finish more than seven penalties ahead of Charlie Knapp and retrained racehorse Race And Status in second on 29.8.

“He did a beautiful test,” India told H&H. “When I started riding him a year ago, he was very green, but we knew he had it in him. He showjumped very well and I’ve never jumped him in such difficult conditions before, so I wasn’t sure how he would react, but he went beautifully.

“Cross-country he was fab — he has been a little green at water previously and there were two on Tweseldown’s course, but he was the best he has ever felt.

“You ask him a question and he will always try his best to answer it. He comes across as a little bit shy, but underneath it all he has loads of personality and loves people.”

The result is thanks to a a team effort, with Mrs Swete keeping him fit at home with hacking and India, who is based with Austin O’Connor, visiting several times a week to school and jump the pony.

India, 24, who has competed up to four-star level and had a top-10 individual finish at the 2016 European Championships for young riders, also rides the four-year-old Kishkinda, who was not a rescue case, for Mrs Swete.

“I rescue young ponies and give them a home and a start to give them a future,” Mrs Swete told H&H.

He has grown into a star. I always thought he was going to be quite nice as when he started moving he had this big, loppity walk.”

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Mrs Swete, who is district commissioner of the Woodland Hunt branch of the Pony Club, added Rasta he has not been the easiest, but they have taken things slowly with him and “once he gets it, he is fine”.

“He is a real sweetheart [to handle], a really sweet pet,” she added. “I hack him out all the time and even when he would have his tantrums in the past, I didn’t think he really meant it, it was just panic.

“It was very soggy at Tweseldown, though it didn’t seem to bother him! He has been to a few events this year, not too much, we have just very lightly and gently brought him on and I don’t have any plans for him. We will just let him develop and work out what he wants to do.”

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