Rescued ‘foal in a bit‘ qualifies for two showjumping championships in new home

  • A pony who hit headlines when he was photographed in a bit and a makeshift rope halter as a foal has gone on to showjumping success — and qualified for the Blue Chip championships.

    RSPCA Jones and his young rider Pippa Atherton are due to contest both the novice and discovery finals at Hartpury in April. Pippa has also qualified the family’s other rescued pony, RSPCA Boro, for the novice championship.

    “When we got Jones, we never knew that part of his history,” Pippa’s mother Jill told H&H. “He’d been rehomed to someone else, then gone back to another RSPCA centre. Pippa’s first pony was an RSPCA one; my husband’s a vet so we have lots of adopted animals, and when Jones popped up, we liked him. The centre manager said he was very cuddly and he is; one of those ponies who will put his head on you and give you a big kiss.”

    Jones was 10 months old when he was seized by the RSPCA and taken into the charity’s care with a number of others in 2016, after the pictures of him wearing the bit had caused widespread outrage. The owner was later sentenced, and Jones went on to be rehomed.

    “I only found out that was him when I investigated his past,” Jill said. “He’s got a bit of a ‘bendy’ leg, and you can see that in those old pictures. I’ve never seen any other RSPCA ponies on the circuit, and it always makes me feel proud.”

    Jones arrived with the Athertons as a four-year-old and it was not long before Pippa said: “Mum, he’s got a hell of a jump!”

    According to Jill, Jones went through a “teenager” phase as a five-year-old but has since come into his own, and Pippa is aiming to jump his four pony newcomer double clears to qualify for second rounds this spring. This is Pippa’s last year in ponies but as the two seven-year-olds are 145cm and 147cm, the plan is to register them as horses and jump them in senior classes after that.

    RSPCA Boro

    “Boro was found completely collapsed in a ditch, and he’s so lovely now,” Jill said. “We’ve got 11 horses altogether and they’re all rescues but two; we bought one as a top-track jumping pony for Pippa but she doesn’t like showjumping!

    “It gives you a real sense of achievement to see what these ponies can do; you put a lot into it but get a real sense of pride. Pippa tells me off because I tell people they’re rescued and she’ll say ‘Mum, you’ve already said that!’ but it feels really special.”

    Jill wants to highlight what rescued horses and ponies can offer, adding: “People seem to think they will come with problems but that’s just not true. A lot of them are young and you put the work in. I’m quite passionate about it, and I’m proud of Pippa too because she puts so much work into them.

    “I almost want them to become famous to show what they can become — but they do us proud every time they go out.”

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