Little Dean Morning Light, a 122cm Welsh section C working hunter pony gelding, has been to four shows this season and already bagged the all-important tickets, ridden by Emma Byrne.
Owner Paula Smith told H&H she bought “Fly” for the price of his passport.
“I was looking for a section C for myself,” she said. “He never made the height, but that doesn’t matter now.
“I saw him advertised online and went to see him but couldn’t get near him; he was running around a barn with three other foals, but I decided I wanted him. My mum went crazy, but I decided to take the risk.”
Paula said Fly had originally been advertised for £750.
“I’d said to my mum at that price ‘What do you think?’ and she said: ‘No, no more horses!’” she said. “Then it came up as price reduced. I spoke to Gwen Browne, who bred him, and she said he was costing her a lot to keep.
“My dad was going down to Cheltenham from Scotland so I just decided to go with him and view Fly. I took a total risk on him.”
As Fly did not grow as big as planned, Paula asked her friend Emma, who rode another of her horses, to get on board.
“My plan was to bring him on and maybe sell him,” Paula said. “Emma said ‘No way am I riding that!’ but I said ‘Let’s just bring him on and see what happens’, and the two of them just clicked, and have done amazing.”
Fly, who is now 10, had “a pole here and there” during his first season but things improved, as he went on to qualify for the RIHS and HOYS in 2019, finishing in eighth place in his class at HOYS.
“He’s brilliant,” Paula said. “We call him Anxiety Annie at home but at competitions, he’s amazing. He jumps anything you put in front of him and never refuses; he shows off and loves the atmosphere.
“It was a really tough year in 2019 as my mum was diagnosed with cancer, and he really brightened up the whole year, and gave us something to focus on.”
Paula said like many people, she was frustrated by the spoke Covid put in the wheels last year as she felt Fly was in his prime, but in hindsight, it was no bad thing.
“I think it’s done him the world of good as he’s come out this season on form,” she said.
“At the British Show Pony Society spring show, he won his class and was champion worker, then two weeks later we went to Stoneleigh without realising it was a qualifier, and he won and qualified for HOYS, then at the National Pony Society area 25 show, the week after Stoneleigh, he qualified for the Royal International.
“When I was writing the film, my son said: ‘Mum, this is what you’ve been waiting for all your life’!”
‘He was a horse no one expected anything from, but he gave everything’
“We never got to the RIHS in 2019 as it my mum was ill and it was so far; it’s about 12 and a half hours’ drive, but this year, we’re definitely going.”
Paula said that although she backed Fly initially, all the work since is down to Emma.
“I’m friends with Gwen on Facebook and she’s amazed by what he’s done,” she said. “No one can believe what I bought him for — even I can’t!”
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