Popular but quirky four-star event horse retires on a win

  • Lebowski, a horse with whom Beanie Sturgis has enjoyed great success at the higher echelons of eventing, has been retired from the sport aged 17 after winning his final run, an open intermediate at Gatcombe Horse Trials on Friday (8 September).

    Known as “Rotter” at home, the horse, who started at eight four-star events, will retire to the hunting field and for Beanie’s two children, Sid (eight) and Ruby (seven) to enjoy.

    “I don’t think I’ll find another like him unfortunately — he’s been a fun little gem,” said Beanie, who discovered Rotter as a two-year-old in Australia, where he was about to be sent for slaughter.

    “I was working on a farm breaking in polo ponies at the time,” explained Beanie. “I spotted Rotter, who was so naughty [hence his name] and his breeder Sybil Baillieu paid for his flight to England for me to have him — he literally owes me nothing.”

    Beanie started eventing the Australian thoroughbred by Dream Time, co-owned by Jill Lamont and and Simon Graley, in 2005 and he has clocked up 978 British Eventing (BE) points during his career.

    His notable results include finishing on his dressage score for 11th place at Badminton in 2016, sixth in the CIC3* at Blenheim in 2016, a clear cross-country round and 23rd place at this year’s Badminton and another clear cross-country round at Badminton in 2013, plus countless other three-star results.

    “I’m so lucky to have had an absolute Ferrari of a horse,” Beanie told H&H, despite his impressive buck and quirky temperament.

    “He’s always been perfectly capable of doing a good dressage test, but he can play up in this phase and I often received judges’ comments such as ‘well sat’ — I think it’s his way of sticking two fingers up to me!”

    “I’ve promised him he will never have to do another dressage test or wear a flash noseband — I might burn his dressage saddle in front of him.”

    Continued below…

    Beanie said it was always the plan to retire Rotter this season.

    “He was starting to feel his age and when I had to squeeze him up the hill in both the Open Championships at Gatcombe in August and again at Gatcombe on Friday, I knew that was it — I’ve never had to ask him to go quicker before,” explained Beanie. “He definitely felt his age in the muddy going.”

    Rotter “loves” his hunting and enjoyed autumn hunting with the Beaufort on Monday and Wednesday last week. This is where he will be found this winter.

    “He might do some tetrathlon with my children next year and they are already fighting over who will take him to Pony Club camp — Ruby said to me the other day, ‘Mummy, I think I’m too big for my 11.2hh now and so I should ride Rotter’!” said Beanie.

    “Ruby was my groom at Blair Horse Trials where I had Rotter in the Event Rider Masters class. She would disappear to go and feed him in the mornings and when I got to his stable I found that she had mucked him out, changed his rugs and had taken him for a hand graze — he really is the sweetest horse on the ground.

    “I’ve had so much fun with him and it’s great to go out on a win.”

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