‘No horse could have been luckier’: sad farewell to much-loved eventer aged 26

  • The owners of a horse who was found “starving” as a two-year-old but went two-star (now three-star) eventing with Ros Canter have paid tribute to the “perfect gentleman” after his death aged 26.

    Fair Expression competed in 11 seasons with riders including Ros, his owner Sue Ringrose and Sue’s daughter Laura. He had to be put down this month after a happy retirement at his home of over two decades.

    “We had him in our family for 22 years,” Sue told H&H. “He’s had a wonderful time.”

    Sue, a coach and former professional eventer, bought “Percy” from Ireland to produce and compete herself.

    “I bought him from a dairy farmer in Limerick, Michael Enright,” she said. “He said ‘This one might be a bit chunky for you’, but they put him in a field with the dairy cows and he went from the bottom to the top of the hill in this amazing powerful medium trot, and I said ‘I have to have him’. He was lovely.

    “He was very big and raw, with a leg at each corner, but he loved his job and was always so careful.”

    Sue evented Percy up to intermediate level, then Ros took the reins in 2006, competing him up to the old two-star level. Then Laura took the reins after success in pony trials.

    “Laura got on him when she was too big for her pony, and carried on doing Pony Club with him,” Sue said. “She was on the winning showjumping and eventing teams, and was twice on the junior regional novice winning team, and came fourth individually. Our horses are all special but he was very well known in horsey circles and he will be missed by many.”

    After Laura’s competitive career with Percy came to an end, he stayed with the family but was ridden and competed by others.

    “We had a girl on an apprenticeship before she went to vet school, and he taught her to ride,” Sue said. “I remember telling her her leg position had really improved and she said that if she put her leg back at all, he’d canter, so she learned to keep it still. On her final assessment, he was cantering round and every time he got to the quarter marker, he’d do medium canter, then back to collected for the corner. The assessor said ‘You’ve really come on, that’s amazing’, and she just smiled as she knew she wasn’t doing anything, he was doing it all.”

    Sue added that Percy was always an “absolute gentleman” to deal with and ride, and although he had his quirks – in 22 years, he would never use a drinker but had to have his water in buckets – “you could do anything with him”.

    In those 22 years, Percy never needed a vet, apart from vaccinations, until recently, when he was diagnosed with PPID (Cushing’s) and stress-related laminitis, and the call had to be made.

    “He was a great character,” Sue said. “Laura worshipped him; she got married at our local country house hotel in 2019 and he was there on the lawn. The girls had turned him out as if for a two-star event, and we all had our picture taken with him. He could be spooky, but he was brilliant, I think he knew it was a special day.

    “He had a poor beginning to life; Michael bought him at two as he found him literally starving; he took him home and his wife said ‘You’re supposed to sell them, not rescue them!’ But that turned his life round as he had a lovely home with them, and then with us. No horse could have been luckier.”

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