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‘Quirky’ £5 horse completes first four-star event

A rider who bought a ‘quirky’ horse for £5 has completed his first four-star event and credits the gelding for bringing his love of the sport back.

Apprentice farrier Thomas Martin, 23, had been eventing since he was a teenager while running a yard but said he struggled to find the horsepower to move up the levels.

“I had two really nice horses but I’d been competing at novice for around five years and felt stuck at that level,” Thomas told H&H.

“In October 2016 I got speaking to a dressage trainer about a horse she knew. Unfortunately the horse’s owner was really struggling with him, she didn’t want to keep him but was worried about him going into the wrong hands.”

Thomas decided to view the 16.2hh KWPN gelding, called Eddie, with his father Andy, a farrier and racehorse trainer.

“We went to see him and took the horsebox,” said Thomas. “I got on and rode him and then my dad told me to get off and told the owner there and then we’d take him.”

Thomas said the owner sold him for £5, providing him with a receipt and with the condition Eddie would not be returned.

“We took him home and we just instantly clicked – and the rest feels like history. He’s been very straightforward to do, and because he’d been in a dressage home I made sure to give him lots of variety in his work and found he really enjoys cross-country,” said Thomas.

“We entered our first BE100 at Oasby in March 2017 and we had a green mistake in the cross-country, but he felt so genuine and like a horse that would get you to the other side of anything.”

Thomas and Eddie continued to move up the levels completing a CIC* at Gatcombe in September 2017. The following year they completed the CCI* at Osberton, and in 2019 rode their first advanced at Allerton Park.

While the pandemic meant eventing was on hold for much of the 2020 season, the pair won the novice at Frickley Park in September, before completing their first ever CCI4*S at Little Downham International.

“I was balloted from the three-star at Cornbury so had to re-route to Frickley and the novice was the only class we could do but it was great to treat it as a conditioning run,” said Thomas.

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“At Little Downham we scored 40.5 in the dressage which doesn’t look the best on paper, and we had a mistake three from home in the cross-country when I think he lost a shoe and he nipped out the side of a combination, but to just get to this level feels incredible. We’ve learnt together and it gives us so much to build on.”

Thomas said he plans to work more on his dressage over winter, with hopes of gaining a double clear at advanced next season and aims to qualify for a CCI4*L.

“Eddie has made me a stronger rider and brought my love for eventing back – I love him to pieces.”

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