The owner of a pony who was written off by vets after a tendon injury but has made a “fairytale” comeback to the showjumping ring has praised his rider and her team for their hard work and determination.
Audrey Grahame told H&H she owes everything to Rocky Robin, who kick-started her daughter Jessica’s showjumping career.
“We call him Rock Star because he just is,” she said. “If he was a person, he’d be the type to be smashing up hotel rooms, because he knows how talented he is.
“Without him, Jess wouldn’t be where she is; she won just about everything with him and he put her on the map.”
Audrey said the pony had been in work, jumping and sound, in late 2018, when Jess, who now works for showjumper Pippa Allen, was moving out of ponies and she intended to sell him.
But when he was trotted in a circle on a hard surface for his vetting, a slight lameness was evident.An MRI scan showed he had damaged his deep digital flexor tendon in the hoof and vets initially gave him a 50% chance of a full recovery.
Rocky was box-rested for six months, then turned out, and he was very gradually brought back into work in late 2019.
“My co-owner at the time, who’s small, started hacking him out but as soon as we started trotting, he went lame again,” Audrey said. “The vet said if he hadn’t come right by then, he never would, and a second opinion said the same thing.
“I said I owed the pony everything and I’d retire him, so I turned him out.”
Rocky spent most of 2020 in a field, and happy in a herd. Then, towards the end of last year, his behaviour started to deteriorate. He would bite the other horses, and go “hooleying” around the field, showing no sign of lameness.
“The lady who owns the field said ‘I think he needs a job’,” Audrey said.
“We trotted him up and he was absolutely sound. What’s funny is that he’d been so good turned out, but then he told us when he was ready to come back.”
Audrey had had a “queue” of people offering to take Rocky on, but young rider Anna Drury had caught her eye.
“She takes on ponies who are difficult, who other children struggle with, works with them and turns them round,” Audrey said. “She’s very quiet and patient but has never had the pony to take her where she should be, and I know how that feels.
“I spoke to her mum, who said ‘Send him down here and we’ll do everything’.”
Anna spent hours, in the worst winter weather, walking Rocky out in hand. Her vets and farrier worked together to improve his foot balance, and it paid off.
“The team Anna’s got is unbelievable, and the comeback is unreal,” Audrey said. “It took a while for her to get to know him as he’s not easy, and he doesn’t suffer much, but he loves her.”
Anna and Rocky jumped their members’ cup double clears to qualify for the final at the British Showjumping national championships next week (3-11 August), then at the Welsh Home Pony (23-27 July), they won the 148cm debut team qualifier, out of more than 76 starters, to qualify for the English team — which won the debut team competition.
“I’m so proud of her, she’s done really well,” Audrey said. “It’s been a fairytale comeback.
“I never gave up on him; I had a gut feeling he wasn’t finished yet, and he’s as good as he ever was, if not better. I can’t thank Anna and her team enough for what they’ve done.”
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