When the Carpenter family bought an unbroken pony as a companion for a foal, little did they realise that they had invited a jumping superstar into their lives.
The eight-year-old Irish-bred Merllyns Mermaid only started her showjumping career two years ago and was a newcomers finalist at Horse of the Year Show in October under regular jockey Iwan Carpenter, where they finished with just four faults.
Then at Aintree’s pony premier show recently (18-19 January) the pair earned their ticket to the winter JC final at the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead, after they produced the only triple clear round to win this season’s opening qualifier.
But this pony’s still as yet untapped potential as a top-flight showjumping pony has come as a complete surprise to owner Amanda Carpenter.
“She was never bought to jump and was only broken when she was six, but she just keeps improving,” said Amanda, Iwan’s mother.
Iwan has produced the mare for the past two years and qualification for the prestigious championship at Hickstead has proved the icing on the cake for the Carpenter family.
Like fine wines, some ponies just seem to get better with age
The much-loved gelding has recovered from the 16 wounds inflicted on him, to return to the show ring
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
“Being drawn in the middle of the pack, I didn’t quite know what to do, but this pony is sometimes too careful for her own good,” said Iwan, whose lovely horsemanship combined with Mermaid’s talent meant the pair never looked like faulting during the Aintree qualifier.
“I thought if I kept her balanced and on an even rhythm, we had a good chance of leaving everything up.”
It was a trio of mares who claimed the tickets to Hickstead in this qualifier — the next slot went to runner-up Drew Ross riding the 14-year-old Kengarth Sally Anne, followed by Elizabeth East with the eight-year-old mare Toureen Boreen.
>>You can read the full report from Aintree Pony Premier Show in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (out 23 January).
Would you like to read Horse & Hound’s independent journalism without any adverts? Join Horse & Hound Plus today and you can read all articles on HorseandHound.co.uk completely ad-free