‘She always knew exactly what I was thinking’: farewell to the most consistent show mare of recent times

  • Georgina and Nicola Wilkes’ adored show mare Mexican Summer has been put down aged 14 after a bout of colic.

    During her career Mexican Summer, who was known as Mexi at home, competed at top level as an intermediate, a small show hunter and a ladies’ ride.

    She won at both Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International (RIHS) in ladies’ ranks and she also stood second as a small hunter at both major championships. In 2018, she took the intermediate show hunter of the year title at HOYS with Miranda Wallace, and in 2021 she was second in the same class with Gary Parr.

    Mexican Summer was by Ramexico and bred by Cornwall-based Lyn Harris. The thoroughbred stallion Bandmaster also featured in her bloodlines, and her great granddam was a small chestnut pony named Megan.

    Mexi was backed as a five-year-old and Georgina and Nicola were first acquainted with her after spotting her advert online while driving to a show.

    “We just fell in love with her,” said Georgina. “As she was in Cornwall and we were in Norfolk, my friend Lisa Davey, who is also based in Cornwall, said she’d go to a local show to view Mexi for us. She’d never been to a show before but Lisa gave her approval and said she was so well behaved. We bought her and picked her up from a transporter at Rossdales Equine Hospital and thankfully we were very happy with our purchase; she was stunning.”

    Georgina said that from the very beginning of their partnership, Mexi was “a pleasure to do” and she “picked everything up easily.”

    “During her first season she had a few cheeky bucks in her gallops, which kept a couple of wins away from her, though she was working show horse champion at the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) championships,” Georgina said. “She loved jumping and she was so honest and brave.”

    “Her side-saddle career started randomly,” Georgina added. “Carol Gilbert Scott brought us a side-saddle for us to try while at Arena UK. We popped it on Mexi and I jumped on her and rode her to the other side of the showground. Mexi didn’t notice any difference and the following week we entered our first HOYS ladies’ qualifier at the Festival of Hunting. My friend Dale Atkinson made sure we were all tacked up correctly and while we were completely chucking ourselves in at the deep end, we won and qualified!”

    While Mexi won accolades at all major shows, including Royal Windsor, the national side-saddle championships, the BSPS championships, Midland Counties, Lincolnshire and the BSHA national championships, among others, she always struggled to contain herself at Georgina and Nicola’s local show, Royal Norfolk.

    “She was always so excited at our local show,” Georgina said. “She was the easiest horse I’ve ever had and she never needed any working in; I would just wander around chatting to people and we’d have a quick canter before going into the ring. She would always get very excited going back to the stable or to the lorry, opting to scream at her friends. She had a best friend in my Welsh section D and if they were ever in neighbouring rings they’d neigh at each other.

    “She had an amazing career and she has given us so much. Alongside showing, her favourite thing to do was to go to the beach and she’d always go into the sea.”

    Last Christmas, Mexi underwent emergency colic surgery and Georgina was unsure whether she would come back for the 2022 season. But Mexi returned to the show ring with a bang and her final show was HOYS, where she lifted the ladies’ show horse of the year title, providing Georgina with a dream ride in the horse supreme. During the week she was also second in the small hunter of the year final and took third in the intermediate show hunter class with Sophie Beaumont.

    “We weren’t even sure if this season would be possible,” Georgina said. “I don’t think I’ll ever find another horse like her; she always knew exactly what I was thinking at any moment. She loved a supreme and she always went perfectly. I never had to think what I was going to do; Mexi just took me round and did whatever I decided to do on the spot.”

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