A young rider who rides the “naughtiest pony on the circuit” is hoping to sit out the bucks to qualify for the top shows this summer.
Isabel Fortune Davies came seventh in the grand prix at the Pony of the Year Show (POYS) last weekend, on her 128cm Innovation IV (Boot), whom her mother Alison Rebecca de Roeck described as “an absolute pig”, having sat it out as he tried to buck her off in the first round.
“He’s bucked her off at every showground in the country – but we still love him,” Alison told H&H. “We’ve had him since she was six – and he’s taught her to ride, put it that way!”
Alison said she had “absolutely no idea what he was like” when she bought the American saddlebred pony.
“So it was a bit of a shock the first morning I turned him out and he unceremoniously dragged me everywhere,” she added.
“He was our first 12.2hh and I thought ‘this can’t be happening, he is only 12.2hh. I’ve learned since.”
Alison said the family then enjoyed a “honeymoon period”, when Boot did not put a foot wrong, then at Isabel’s first British Showjumping show, things changed, when the pony planted in the ring.
“Whenever Isabel goes into the ring now, I say to her: ‘Brace’,” Alison said. “We were at England team training and the trainer said: ‘What sort of instruction is that to give a child?’ I thought: ‘I hope you never find out’!
“He jumps like a stag; he’ll jump 1.20m no problem, it’s the bits in between. He’ll stop dead, then buck and buck – he goes vertical.”
Alison said everything possible has been checked, including Boot’s back, saddle, teeth and even his hormones, to check there is no physical root to his issues.
“It can happen anywhere,” she said. “At POYS, he jumped a line, slammed the brakes on and bucked, and she had to turn from nothing to the next fence. Even the commentator said it was quick thinking and well ridden.
“Everyone was rooting for her; everyone loves a rogue, and his fan club was screaming for him.
‘He kept all four feet on the ground during the dressage, which is pretty much a first!’
This week’s guest editor on combating nerves, the secret ingredient that makes his horses shine and dealing with naughty mounts
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
“I’ve always said that if she doesn’t want to ride him, she doesn’t have to but she’s a tough cookie and it just makes her more determined.”
Alison said Boot has also taken her older, nervous, daughter round at 40cm, and “looks after her up to a point – he’s only bucked her off once”, and that he and Isabel will be touring the circuit of Horse of the Year Show and Olympic qualifiers this summer.
“He’s a little star,” she said.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.