‘We were lucky to have him’: farewell to top native stallion who covered The late Queen’s mares

  • The former National Pony Society (NPS) Olympia mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme champion Snowydene has died aged 30.

    Olwen Briant’s Highland stallion Snowydene, who was known at home as Snowy, lifted the prestigious title on his debut at the London final with Lizzie Finlayson-Briant in 2000.

    Snowy was bred by Scott McGregor and he was bought by the Briants as a four-year-old.

    “We met Scott when we were at Olympia showing our Fell mare, Lunesdale Lucky Lady,” explained Lizzie. “We were admiring his stallion, Falcon Frost Of Sauchrie, and said if he were to ever have a son by him then we’d like to know about it. Luckily for us, when Snowy became available Scott got in touch with us.”

    Snowy debuted in the show ring as a six-year-old and he was successful on several occasions, winning multiple novice classes. He qualified for Olympia on his first attempt the following year. At the final in December he was crowned best of breed before scooping the supreme title.

    “He was always a bouncy ride and I can remember the ride judge at Olympia [Jackie Beatham] saying that he looked so fresh and happy for how late it was in the season,” recalled Lizzie. “He was pretty gobsmacked by the atmosphere, but he went amazingly well and he did a great show.”

    Snowy, a winner of the Glyn Greenwood in-hand supreme at the Ponies (UK) championships in 2004, was also a consistent breeding stallion. He is the sire of former Royal Highland breed supreme Heather of Conway.

    “He also covered some of The late Queen’s mares,” Lizzie said. “For a Highland pony he was always forward and off the leg. In his later years he was a bit of a pet and while we once got offered a lot of money for him, we were never tempted to sell him.

    “His temperament was second to none; you could cover a mare with him one day and take him to a show the next. He would wander around the yard with my young son, too and we could completely trust him. He also had a love of jam donuts and he had one every birthday right up until the end of his days.

    “We are all devastated by his passing, but we feel lucky that he was fit and well right up until he was 30 years old. He never had a sick or sorry day in his life.”

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