‘You had to pinch yourself when you rode him’: showing legend dies aged 29

  • A legendary working hunter who was supreme champion at the Royal International Horse Show four years running has died at the age of 29.

    Louise Bell’s Rocky IV passed away on 25 January.

    The talented grey won at the Horse of the Year Show in 1997 with Louise and took numerous titles on the county circuit on top of their record-breaking Hickstead performances.

    “He was the best,” the showing-turned-dressage rider told H&H.

    “You had to pinch yourself when you rode him. I spent hours schooling him — we used to do half passes and changes when we were playing around — I didn’t even have to do them then.

    “I was a tiny little person on a giant grey horse and I rode him with my little fingers.”

    Rocky won over 150 championships, and at every county show in the country.

    “He was the spectators’ favourite and competitors dreaded being against him,” said Louise. “He captivated people and he used to really impress in the jumping round.

    “He regularly scored 100 out of 100 in total marks.

    “They don’t make them like that any more — he was a bloody legend.”

    Rocky was retired from the show ring in 2003 and hunted for four years.

    When he was fully retired 10 years ago, he moved on to looking after youngsters.

    “They all loved him,” said Louise.

    “When he came through the yard they would all look out and whinny at him.

    “He was such a personality in a really good way. You could clip him without a head collar on.”

    Rocky was put down after serious foot complications.

    “You know the time is coming but it’s really hard,” added Louise.

    “I was very lucky to have him. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

    “He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”

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